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Activity Benefits Exercise-Induced Asthma

You can stay fit without triggering attacks

Exercise can bring on attacks in up to 90 percent of asthma sufferers. Indeed, some asthmatics experience asthma only during exercise, which can appear as shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest or coughing. Rather than advising people who have exercise-induced asthma to take it easy, doctors advise patients to stay physically fit.

But that sounds like a Catch-22: How can someone keep fit if exercise sets off asthma attacks?

Sports medicine specialists say it's possible if asthmatics use preventive medications wisely and avoid certain triggers that exacerbate attacks. Exercise-induced asthma can be made worse by cold, dry air or air containing, and high levels of pollen or pollutants. The extra effort made to stay fit pays off in fewer or milder asthma attacks overall and a need for less medication, according to a news service story appearing in the Detroit News. The article offers additional tips for avoiding exercise-induced asthma and explains what to do when an attack does occur.

Exercise-induced asthma can happen at almost any age, and it's surprisingly common in school-aged children. One Philadelphia-area study found that 9 percent of high school football players suffered bronchial spasms following moderate exercise. Another Detroit News story reports that many of the affected teens had never been diagnosed with a problem. The Nashville Tennessean describes how one middle-school student overcame the problem.

Respiratory specialists say swimming can be one of the best exercises for people with asthma, the Lexington, Ky., Herald-Leader reports. "By and large swimming is considered the best exercise for asthmatics," says Dr. Jamshed Kanga, chief of pediatric pulmonology at the University of Kentucky medical center. "In fact many Olympic swimmers have asthma and yet they do quite well."

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