Recognizing Exercise-Induced Asthma

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - If you feel out of breath, cough or wheeze during or after exercise, you may have exercise-induced asthma. This Healthcast introduces you to one Westlake athlete who is keeping her asthma in check on and off the court and field!

Westlake High School senior Alyssa Query doesn't have a free "season" between volleyball, basketball and softball.  "I've always loved sports," says Alyssa, "I've played them since I was little. I grew up with it, too so I'm just a very competitive person."

But an unwanted opponent came along with Alyssa's sports routine.  "During one basketball game in 8th grade, I knew I couldn't breathe," says Alyssa, "but I kept running and that's when all of a sudden, I was like, 'mom, I can't breathe,' and I started wheezing."

Alyssa was told she had exercise-induced asthma.  Dr. David Wallace with The Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana says this occurs when the main air passages of the lungs become inflamed.  "Normally when you breathe, the nasal passage is kind of warm and moist in the air and when you exercise," says Dr. Wallace, "especially in cool environments or changes in humidity, it can trigger asthma."

Alyssa didn't have to give up the game.  She was told to keep a close eye on her breathing and to slow down when she's pushing herself too hard.  "When I can feel my chest caving in or something that makes me stop what I'm doing - because it can get worse," says Alyssa, "I'll slow down or take my inhaler."

A spirometer can also be a good tool to monitor your air exchange. Typically, signs and symptoms of exercise-induced asthma start after 5 to 15 minutes of exercise.  "If you're short of breath and have decreased air exchange during exercise," says Dr. Wallace, "which can cause some respiratory difficulties."

Pre-treating the condition with an inhaler about 15 minutes before physical activity can keep you moving, without the asthma slowing you down.

*Alyssa's asthma didn't get in the way in this week's big softball district championship game against St. Louis High School. She helped lead the Rams to victory.

*If you want your child to be examined by a pediatrician for asthma-related problems, call The Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana at 478-6480.