Let me state clearly, these are my personal experiences with Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) and I am not promoting any course of action when dealing with EIA.
I was 25 when someone asked if I might have EIA and 26 when I was diagnosed. One might think that I have only recently begun to push myself hard enough for this to be discovered, but I have been sporadically active my entire life. As a child, I played with the kids in the neighborhood and our games were typical of that age: tag, climbing trees, hide and seek, biking, etc. Most of these games required little stamina/endurance, perhaps except tag , which is probably why no one noticed any breathing troubles I may have had. As a teenager I participated in a couple of school sports, softball and volleyball, for a short time. Those are both sports that, at this age, don’t necessarily have a huge endurance component. For both, there are quick bursts of running followed by standing or walking. It wasn’t until a few years ago, in my early 20s, that I started running. But, looking back, there may have been a couple of clues along the way. Bear with me for a moment, I have a terrible memory.
When I was younger, perhaps ten or so, our family would go on bike rides. This wasn’t like riding around with my friends in the neighborhood, these were loooooong rides. Well, at least to a ten-year-old they were. After one ride, I remember having to sit at our dinner table for quite some time. We had just thought that the southern heat had gotten to me, I was flushed and took a long time to catch my breath. Was this an instance of EIA?
Another time, as an 11th grader, a new volleyball coach had come to our school and practice was suddenly much harder. The worst exercise, by far, were eagles. Eagles, probably a local name, were done in the two level gym. They involved 1) running diagonally across the basketball court and running up stairs, 2) running the length of the court topside and running the down stairs, 3) running diagonally across the court and running up stairs, 4) running the length of the court topside and running down the stairs. After having to do these twice, I was done. I nearly passed out, having to sit down for 15-20 minutes in the coach’s office and calm down. Was this EIA?
I probably won’t ever know on those two occurrences. My memories are a bit fuzzy because so many years have passed since they happened.
I am better able to recognize the symptoms I felt as an adult. The first huge sign was after that first bike ride several months ago. I felt like I had gone mountain climbing at high altitude after going just a couple of miles in a neighborhood. I was sweating, gasping, and had to sit down for quite some time. Part of the gasping was due to the too short chin strap on my helmet, side note: when trying on a helmet, make sure you put your head in the position it will be in while riding. That night, the guy asked about EIA.
We went riding with a couple of friends a few weeks later. After just riding a few miles here and there, want to ride 17 mi in one shot? Of course! How did it go? I had to stop about 6 miles in to nearly break down sobbing on the side of the road. After about 15 minutes, I got myself together and mounted my aluminum steed to finish the ride. I made an appointment soon after that ride.
After both of these occurrences, and other exercising, I started analyzing how I physically felt when this was happening. Every one of my symptoms – wheezing, hard to move air in and out of my lungs, dry cough, chest tightness and occasional pain – were listed on the various EIA websites. By seeking an appointment with a doctor and receiving treatment, I have now been able to run my first 5K and bike over 25 miles at a time. This puts several of my goals within reach.
Next post: Is it EIA, or am I just out of shape?