Tag Archives: peak flow

Asthma and exercise: My current experience

I haven’t really blogged that much about my asthma for a while, mainly because I have been focusing on my joint health a lot. My asthma has been pretty well controlled these past few months, and I have only really experienced symptoms if I am exposed to a trigger. My Ventolin usage has been right down which is excellent, my peak flow has been okay for the most part, and I haven’t really needed to increase the dosage of my Flutiform that much either.

My main issue has been when I exercise. My friend and I have just finished our second week of running using the “Couch to 5K” app which gradually increases the distance, and length of time that you run for over a period of 9 weeks until you can run for 30 minutes [and hopefully run a distance of about 5k] at the end of it. I have never been a fan of running, although a lot of the sports I used to do involved running [football, cricket, netball, ultimate frisbee, rounders, etc]… I just hate how running makes me feel while I am actually doing it, I hate how tight my chest gets, and I hate how it makes me cough, I hate the excessive mucus production I get after every run [that may be a bit TMI]… But having said that, I really like how running makes me feel after I have finished a session [apart from the chest issues part]. The release of endorphins is fab. My main concern is now that the app is slowly increasing the length of time I have to run for… Running intervals of 90 seconds makes me feel like my chest is going to kill me, so how is running intervals of 2 minutes and 3 minutes going to make me feel next week, or running for 5 minutes the week after.

I admit that I am not that fit right now, but being unfit does not make you wheeze, it does not make you cough till your head hurts, it does not make you feel like you have an elephant sitting on your chest. Being unfit makes you more out of breath, more hot, more sweaty… that is the difference between being unfit and having asthma that is triggered by exercise. I explained all this to my asthma nurse on Monday and she decided that we could try Singulair to see if it helps. I have just done my 2nd run since starting it and so far no difference, although I haven’t been taking for Singulair long enough to make a difference so hopefully I will see a difference over the coming weeks. I have also increased my Flutiform to 3 puffs twice a day on days I am exercising and I have also started pre-medicating with 400mcg [4 puffs] of Ventolin before I exercise… Both of these are helping somewhat but I am still really struggling… I have also started taking my peak flow before and after exercise, and even with the added Ventolin and Flutiform my peak flow still decreases by up to 100 points [in my case this is equivalent to 25-26%, although this drop can range from 13% all the way up to 26%, most likely depending on how I was feeling that day, as well as environmental factors]. If the singular doesn’t decrease this drop, or if I am still feeling pretty rubbish during exercise my asthma nurse and me are going to have to put our heads together to work out what is best in terms of treatment.

However, despite my asthma I do feel as if I am getting stronger, I have lost 5kg [11lb] since January, and I have only been exercising properly for the last 2 weeks… Right now I try to swim twice a week, and I run 3 times a week too although because of my asthma, I can’t work out as hard as I would want to, but with the right treatment I’m sure that will change. It is just very frustrating because my joints are at a place where I can exercise and build back the muscle I have lost and I am really motivated to get fit but my lungs are putting the breaks on it a bit… I am so incredibly lucky to have an asthma nurse who understands what it is like to have asthma, and have it preventing you from exercising to your best ability [she has asthma herself, and likes to cycle], and she isn’t one to tell me to stop exercising like my last asthma nurse asked me to do… Actually my last asthma nurse asked me to quit my job [as a swimming teacher and coach] and to stop swimming, but this asthma nurse is happy for me to continue exercising as long as I know when my lungs have had enough, and she is fully on board with trying new treatments so that I can work out as much as I can, within reason of course.

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A happy asthma day

Lately I haven’t been having a good time breathing… Partly my fault for not filling my prescription of symbicort (as you can read here) and partly because I got another cold. Now my peak hasn’t been great ever since I had the 3 (undiagnosed) chest infections I had in the last part of 2012.

In fact I haven’t been in my green zone since the 3rd of March and I think that was a bit of a fluke since I hadn’t been in my green zone since the end of January. But today I almost got into my green zone! I hit 300 which is a whopping 75%… Now I wouldn’t normally be happy that my peak flow is at 75% because I would prefer it to be at 80% (green zoning) but at the minute I’m quite content at 75%, I mean the last time I saw 300 was the 13th March. I was so happy I took a picture!

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Although I do think that this “high” peak flow has something to do with me taking double my daily dose of symbicort (800mcg of budesonide and 48mcg of formoterol). I’ve got so much LABA in my system that the symbicort shakes are going crazy. I’ve had to re-type half of what I’ve written because I’ve pressed the wrong button because of the shakes. Although I would take the shakes over bad breathing any day. Tomorrow I’m going to drop the symbicort to 3 puffs twice daily and see what happens.

I also picked myself this leaflet at the pharmacy. It’s an online prescription thing where I type in what meds I’m needing and boots (British pharmacy shop thing) go an collect my prescription from my doctor and fill it, then text me when I need to come in. That’s seriously EPIC, especially because I was having issues remembering to put my prescriptions in. So I should be getting a text on the 29th of this month telling me to go and get some symbicort and ventolin.

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Swimming and asthma

Okay so I wrote a little about this in my triggers post here. But I wanted to do an individual post on this as there isn’t much information about chlorine allergies on the internet.

So I used to swim competitively for about 4 maybe 5 years and I never really experienced any issues with chlorine apart from one time when lifeguards seriously over chlorinated the pool and everybody was coughing.

In February 2012 I started working at a swimming pool teaching kids how to swim and I couldn’t understand why pretty much as soon as got on poolside I would start coughing and within ten minutes be wheezing real bad, I can cope with coughing and wheezing but what really scared me was just how short of breath I was, after an hour I could hardly even talk in full sentences. This was one of the main reasons why I went back to the doctors and got diagnosed with asthma.

I told my asthma nurse my problem in July and she said it was quite rare but she thought I was allergic to chlorine. So I was given a ventolin inhaler which has improved my symptoms but it still only gives me about 10 minutes of relief, and that’s even when I have been taking my inhaled steroids and LABA. So I have decided that on the 30th, when I next see my asthma nurse I’m going to see if there is anything else I can take in addition to help improve my symptoms further, even half an hours’ worth of relief would make a huge difference. If there is nothing she can give me I think I will have to stop swimming and teaching swimming.

Every time I visit a pool, my peak flow drops to around 55% or thereabouts, that means my peak flow hits 55% 4 days a week, alright its only there for about 2 hours but it is still hits 55%. This is dangerous and it has been going on for too long so unless I can control it, I’m going to have to find a new hobby and a new job.