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Exercise induced asthma and being an athlete

Hi everyone,

So about me: I'm 17, and a wannabe-international hockey player who has recently been diagnosed with asthma. I was asthmatic when I was little - I never had an attack but had both blue and brown inhalers, as did my siblings. By the age of 8 I'd 'outgrown' it and weaned off the inhalers. I have hay fever and eczema that I never outgrew though. Last year I got sick - really ill, after a while we discovered it was pneumonia. After lots of antibiotics and rest the infection went away, but I still had a really bad cough which stuck around for a while. We tried lots of treatments and in the end a course of prednisone seemed to help out and I was given a blue inhaler. I wasn't coughing 24/7 but noticed I would cough around certain things - outside in the summer, in the (dusty) attack, and when starting to jog again. So we went to the doctor again who diagnosed me with asthma, she said it can be triggered by viral infections and also since I had risk-factors like family history and allergies. My triggers are pollen, dust and exercise. I am on the Symbicort inhalers. The pollen and dust thing can be managed and is tolerable.

But the exercise thing is not - I want to be an athlete. I know my asthma is not severe and I shouldn't complain. I haven't had an attack and my symptoms are just chest tightness and wheezing and a bit of coughing. But can I ever be an athlete again if exercise brings on these symptoms? I can tolerate them, that's not the problem 0 it's my affected performance that is concerning me - will I ever be able to get to the same fitness again? Is it possible to do such things even with asthma?

Sorry for the long post, I just want to learn more about exercise-induced asthma, I don't really understand it. And I don't want to sound stupid when saying 'I want to aim play internationally, but I have exercise-induced asthma!'



4 Replies

I had pneumonia too and it really kicked off a very bad spell of asthma it has taken 3 months to get back to any kind of normality but I'm still not 100% yet I was told by my do. Tht it could be 6 months before the affects of the pneumonia are gone even though the actual infection is long gone.

I would say yes absolutely you can follow your dreams there are many athletes with asthma Paula Radcliffe for one off the top oft head. Give it some time keep taking your symbicort and I'm sure your strength will come back. Also hard after pred but try to minimise your risk of catching a cold I've had 3 since as I have small germy children lol but they just set you back and don't forget flu jab!


Your asthma sounds poorly controlled. If asthma symptoms are limiting your exercise you should be going back to your GP/asthma nurse. They should be able to get your asthma better controlled, maybe with different inhalers and or the addition of other drugs. A tablet called Montelukast can have a positive effect on exercise induced asthma although it's mainly aimed at allergy related asthma. With better control you've got every chance of following your goals.

Your fitness will come back quickly enough as your asthma gets better. I'm a runner and fairly often cannot run for weeks at a time because of poorly controlled asthma, but when I get going again my fitness returns quickly, sometimes my legs do really well after an attack as they've had several weeks rest, just need to be gentle on the lungs and build up from low intensity to medium and then high. Good luck Margy, don't have any doubts about being able to pursue this. Having asthma just made me more determined to succeed (even won a couple of races and a few more prizes), I hope you feel this way too.


Apologies if this is off topic but David Beckham has exercise induced asthma. I remember reading an article in the Times years ago where he said that he takes an inhaler before he does exercise and then he's usually okay? I can't quite remember, though.




Hi Margy,

I am a ex respiratory nurse so have dealt with situations like this many times

You usually don't grow out of asthma

I know they say 1 in 10 children say they have it & 1 in 20 adults say they have it so that implies that it goes away.

However I truly believe that once in the adult service, many patients are given more leeway unlike in the children's service where we would ring them up if they missed an appointment, see them weekly if needs be, have a nurse specialist at the end of a phone etc etc.

I believe people think they are free or well controlled but they aren't.

We really need to ensure that ALL asthma patient get the educations, close monitoring & support as it is often the mild & moderate NOT SEVERE that run into problem as with severe asthmatic they are probably seen more.

Asthma is not NOTHING as I have heard people say, it is.

As for being an athlete if you are very good you will have a team doctor (never met one so don't know the extent of their asthma knowledge tho) who monitor you.

I know that quite a few athletes are asthmatic, Paula Radcliffe, is one plus a swimmer who's name escapes me are a couple.

So I would say get your asthma as best as you can by seeing the dr & nurse, make sure you use take your inhalers , take them regularly, take the inhaler correctly.& when, use your asthma management plan & try to get a lung function done by a physiologist so you know how you really are.

Otherwise enjoy your athletics & hope you do really well


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