Running with chest infection/asthma

I'm very encouraged by posts on here re running with asthma. After several long running chest infections last year I got diagnosed with adult onset asthma. The chest infections meant I had long periods away from doing much running which was depressing. Having finally got to an NHS Respiratory Clinic I now have a salbutamol inhaler and my peak flow had settled at 350 and I have been running and doing fine.

Last week I started getting a cold which seemed to immediately go to my chest. The last few days I've been struggling to breathe at anything beyond a walk and my peak flow has dropped to 300. So I'm not running and feeling twitchy and annoyed and depressed at my fitness ebbing away.

What do others do about asthma and chest infections and keeping their running going? I don't know if it is my imagination but I feel as though half the population has had a chest infection for the last year or so. I mix with a lot of people in my job and everyone's coughing! Thanks.

12 Replies

  • Oooohhhh Annief I feel for you as I suffer from both. Last October my asthma started to play up which for years I have been able to keep it under good control, very soon I had the worst chest infection I have had in many years, I was ill for 3 weeks and sadly unable to run for 10 weeks. Having got over the chest infection I found running out side was almost impossible my lungs just did not cope with the icy cold air (I'm NE Scotland) so I took to the dreadmills at my gym. for 2 weeks every thing was going well and I was building up my speed and distance however now struck down with severe heel pain (PF I think) so running stopped yet again. I have persevered with Cross Trainer as there is less impact.

    My advice (also doctors) take 2 puffs of your inhaler before you set off also take it with you. Cover your mouth and nose with a buff until your body is used to the cold which will help stop the gasping that asthmatics are inclined to do when hit by icy cold air. I've been advised not to get soaking wet until I'm totally recovered which Doc says could take me about 6 months!!! Sounds a long time but I was nearly hospitalised with it.

    If you struggle running outside try and use a treadmill for a while it will keep your fitness in check. Also if you swim its a wonderful exercise for maintaining and improving fitness, it also helps with breathing. Good luck hope you get back to where you were but take it easy and listen to your body.

  • Well old girl thats the reality of asthma for me i have to take my preventer everyday othewise my asthma wont be controlled i do this because I have moderate asthma

  • Thanks Oldgirl, it always helps when someone else has similar things going on! It feels like a vicious circle somehow, we try to exercise, make a bit of progress and then get pushed back. Grr.

    I started running again in a gym and found the cross trainer great at that point but I got increasingly fed up with the posing that goes on in gyms and started feeling like a hamster on a wheel on the cross trainer. It was so exciting to be able to run outside that I don't want to go back in.

    Your experience with the chest infection is what I have heard from various people, I haven't had antibiotics for 30 years but had them twice last year. Could there be a superbug about?

    Heel pain sounds nasty. Hope you've got some help on that. That said, exercising isn't without its problems, I've had cysts on my plantar tendon and rumbling on knee pain but I do love to run, so I keep at it.

    Good luck to you too, hope things improve.

  • Its not good when you need antibiotics time after time, I had 5 different lots and steroids before I was sorted. As for running and working out in a gym I have to say I'm extremely lucky, the gym I go to is full of foreign & British students and the foreign kids always treat their elders with respect this thankfully seems to rub off on the locals and we (older members) are always treated nicely. Don't give up, try swimming and/or brisk walking until you feel able to run again, and good luck to you.

  • I have only been getting into running for a few months now. I love getting outside to run (im not even that good at it yet but it's such a great mood lifter). After reading loads of info and advice online re asthma and running the best for me was stop and get your breath back. A lot of people say to bring it to a steady walk. But as soon as I stop get my breath back I'm off again. Where as when I walk I end up staying walking and puffing on my inhaler more. And also practice practice practice. Might also be worth looking into preventors if you havent done so already.

    Better yet lets pray for an early summer hehe

  • Hi AnnieF, I was diagnosed with asthma last spring and things have been a tad tricky on and off since then! The asthma nurse was a bit baffled by my need to run :D but suggested a daily anti-histamine (just an over-the-counter one) and also prescribed the purple inhaler as a preventative night and morning, plus the blue Ventolin reliever. She suggested 4 puffs of this before I run and as needed after - which this morning was another 4 puffs. I had a bit of a hiccup last autumn as I had acute bronchitis which hung around for weeks, necessitating steroids and antibiotics etc etc etc and I'm only really back up to running about 4k. She also suggested multi-vitamins to stave off colds and infections, and using a buff over your nose and mouth is very helpful if it's cold outside. I hope you can find something that works for you - I know how frustrating it gets.

  • Like you I was diagnosed with asthma after series of really bad chest infections. I'm just about to begin W3 and so far (touch wood) asthma not been a problem. I think being outside is good for me. Although I like the gym I found I was always coming down with a bug (germs being passed easily in such places?) and sometimes the air conditioning would set me off coughing. Three years ago I started having the annual flu jab and have not had to have antibiotics since so maybe that may work for you.

    Good luck.

  • Some useful ideas, thank you people. The daily anti-histamine is one I've not heard before. RoRoMama I did find I got cold after cold at the gym and I concluded that it was a germ ridden place with all that sweat and heavy breathing! Hadn't thought about having a flu jab but yes, of course, that might well help.

    I have always taken high dose Vitamin C when I've had colds and I have noticed that that seems to help with the asthma too. I was really pleased when the consultant at the Respiratory Clinic was amused but very supportive of me running!

  • Hi AnnieF, I have had asthma since I was an early teen and like you, I was prone to chest infections and even got pneumonia a couple of years ago! If you have asthma, you should be offered the flu jab by your GP, if not go and ask for it. Also, allergies exacerbate asthma symptoms and it could well be that some kind of unknown allergen is making it worse; so I would recommend that you keep an eye on this. Personally, it, wasn't until in my 20's that someone told me this and then after discussing it with my GP we found that prescription antihistamines in the Summer meant I didn't need a steroid inhaler at all.

    When I started this programme I had 2 puffs of the salbutamol before running but I no longer need it and am absolutely amazed. This might be different when all the flowers are in bloom!!

  • Well, at the risk of people being very sceptical, I recently had my hands read by a properly trained palmist and among a number of surprising things she said was the question 'have you recently discovered you have an allergy of some sort?' It seemed a new line had appeared that indicates such. I often wonder about wheat and chocolate and I have noticed I am reacting to traffic pollution quite strongly which I've never noticed before now so I am trying to keep a few notes. Thanks.

  • Traffic fumes go for me Annie and I have found to run first thing in the morning was easier during the summer months instead of evenings. The fumes in the morning don't seem to hang about like they do at the end of the day!! I have been asthmatic all my life but find colds especially in the winter can often progress to chest infections and the flu jag is a must for me. In Scotland everyone over 60 is offered it free of charge and anyone suffering a life long illness also gets (includes asthma, diabetes, heart problems etc) Ask you Asthma nurse for advice on it.

    Never been told to take anti-histamine would be interested to hear if that helps Anniemurph please.

  • Wellcome to the 'wonderful' world of asthma ive had asthma since I was 4 and now I'm 37 i know how you feel running is hard with asthma you just have to get used to it. Yeah i cough a lot and people at work just stare at me and i say what are you looking at. It's annoying because not everyone knows about my asthma.

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