Asthma Q and A

On my blog stats, I can see questions that people have googled which eventually led them to this website. I find myself excitedly answering the question out loud to my computer screen (sometimes shouting!) but have no way of getting back to that person. Thank goodness SOME things are hard to trace. It saves me from feeling like a stalker trying to track someone down to answer their question. But it gave me an idea. I’m going to start listing those questions here and offering my best answer as they come up. Chances are, someone else has the same question and in fact, many of the ones I see are repeats. I’ll keep adding to the list here so that all questions are on the same post. If these trigger other questions and you want to ask, feel free to add yours as a comment on this post. Let the discussion begin!

Q: “my peak flow is 190 should I go to hospital”

YES!  Although the “magic number” for each person is slightly different, this is a very low peak flow and I would recommend you go in.  It really is based on what your “personal best” peak flow measurement is.  Click here for a link to a great website all about peak flow and if you scroll down, there is a chart.  Now this chart does include “personal best” measurements that are themselves below 200 but I cannot even fathom that that would be considered a normal for anyone.  At any rate, I’d say whoever asked that question is really struggling.  Go in and get checked.  I hope you feel better soon.

Q: “Triathlon asthma crazy”

I’m not sure who googled this of course, but this is my favorite entry which led someone to my blog.  I love that the word “crazy” is used here.  I can’t be certain of the intent but I assume this person is wondering if it’s crazy to think about doing a triathlon if you have asthma. While I don’t really hold up a measuring stick between people’s experiences and how to label them, my own personal philosophy on adventure is, “the crazier the better!”  But that’s just me.  The real question here I believe is, should you consider doing a triathlon if you have asthma?  I hope that by reading my blog this person’s question was answered with an explosive “absolutely!”  While I still have more to post about what I’m doing to control this, I hope that what I’ve laid out thus far is helpful.  I still rarely take my inhaler and I’m looking forward to a nice trail run this evening with friends.  I still work out almost every day.  There’s no reason to think you can’t.  Just be mindful of your symptoms and if it’s time to make changes nutritionally, take stock of your goals and decide if that’s what you want.  And then GO FOR IT!

Q: Will running clear my asthma with colds?

A: In my experience, if I’m already having symptoms, I opt out of running until I get it under control.  If it’s just a slight wheezing, then a hit on my inhaler will do the trick and I carry on.  But if I have a cold, which is MY biggest trigger for serious episodes, I go see my naturopathic doctor imediately.  You have to know your own symptoms and know them well.  Losing a day or two of training isn’t terrible, but losing days/weeks as a result from a more serious episode if a cold gets out of hand IS terrible, and difficult to recover from.

Q: Asthma and milk + Vitamin D.

A: To me, this is two different issues. Asthma and milk: I haven’t found clinical studies that prove that dairy in general causes asthma and in fact, I wouldn’t say it has ever been the primary cause of my symptoms. But I CAN say, whether there are clinical studies to conclusively state it or not, every time I have ingested any dairy when I am symptomatic, it immediately makes my symptoms worse. I stopped most of my dairy intake not because of any clinical study, but because of personal results and those of other friends who have taken the same route. We have all had the same outcome. I decided that, if dairy is the first thing I have to avoid when I’m sick, why take it in when I’m healthy?

On the other hand, there are plenty of clinical studies which support the assertion that Vitamin D has a positive impact on asthma, and it is part of my “magic formula” for controlling my symptoms. Click here for a recent study from researchers at Harvard.

Q: If you are on an inhaler for asthma how do you run a half marathon?

I love this question because it makes me think of how many times I had to slow down or use my inhaler during my first half marathon, and now I don’t remember the last time I used it during a race at all; half marathon or much longer even.

A: The short answer is take your inhaler 15 minutes before you start. Once the race begins, take it slow at first until your lungs warm up, and then run according to how you feel. If you start feeling wheezy or short of breath, slow down or even walk a little. Some do a consistent walk/run combination but every person is different. This really depends on your training up to the race. If you are training properly, you should have a very good idea of how much your body can handle before it becomes symptomatic. The more you train properly and pay attention to your symptoms, the more prepared you will be on race day and you’ll know how to respond, whether it’s to use your inhaler, slow down, or go for it if you are feeling good.

The longer answer is, if you make sure your body is getting the proper nutrients consistently, it will naturally fight off inflammation, which is what asthma is all about; chronic inflammation. If you control that on a day-to-day basis by giving your body what it needs, you will find that you don’t have the need to be rescued as often, or at all. I was inhaler dependent 7 years ago. Three months ago, I raced in an event for 17 hours straight and didn’t need the inhaler once. That is remarkable! It works. It really does work. Check out these posts for more information. They provide plenty of links to some great research! Controlling Asthma: My Magic Formula, Vitamin D and Asthma, Omega 3s and Asthma

Q: Is taking prednisone before an Ironman a good idea?

A: If you are under a doctor’s orders to take it already, then it wouldn’t be a good idea to stop until you have properly tapered off of it. If it’s the first time you’ve taken prednisone, just be aware that there are a LOT of side effects, they are different for everyone, and some take longer to kick in than others (hours or days). Click here for a decent, although not all-inclusive list. Hopefully you have some time before race day so that you know how your body is reacting to it. I wouldn’t avoid the race if you feel up to it. But I certainly wouldn’t take prednisone if it’s not being prescribed. Every time prednisone is prescribed, the GOAL is to get off of it as soon as possible. I always find that ironic. “Here, you need this medication but then you need to get off of it ASAP because it does horrible things to your body.”

Q: Do Omega 3s help asthma?

A: YES! Check out my blog entry on that very topic here.

Q: Can I still be an athlete if I have asthma?

A: I jumped up off of my exercise ball chair at this one, yelling “Yes, of course you can!” I hope the person who asked that question and read through this blog felt that way too after reading it.

Q: I have asthma. Could I still work in musical theatre?

A: Absolutely! You might encounter the same issues that every asthmatic does but that’s no reason to throw in the towel on something you love. Go for it!

Q: Can your lung collapse with asthma?

A: With an acute attack, yes.  Mine has collapsed three times; once completely, twice partially.  Each time, the doctors were redisent to actually state that the asthma episode was the primary cause of the collapse, so this is still unclear to me.  But I will say that each time it has collapsed, it has been in the midst of an asthma episode, so despite what doctors told me at the time, I lean towards what I believe to be the obvious.

If you have a question, post it on the comments and I’ll add it to the list and give you my best answer.



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