Well, it’s June! It’s time to get outside and run around, explore, have adventures in the great outdoors. Not so fast! (pun intended)
For some, outdoor activities present a barrage of asthma triggers. The simple increase in breathing rate and depth can be a trigger for those with the condition known as Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA).
At rest, we typically breathe through the nose. This has the effect of warming the inspired air before it reaches the lung. When we exercise, we begin to breathe through the mouth, and the colder, often drier air hits the warmer, moister lungs. For those with EIA, this will trigger an asthma response: smooth muscle contraction and constriction of the airways, a large secretion of mucus, and, over time, a thickening of the walls of the airways.
Occasionally the asthma response in those affected by EIA is compounded by other allergic triggers such as inhaled pollens, but often exercise is the only trigger of this type of asthma.
Many elite athletes suffer from EIA, including three high profile English soccer players, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Paul Scholes.
Conventional treatment in cases where exercise is the only trigger is fairly straightforward, typically requiring only one inhaler medication, a short-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilator. This medication has the quick effect of relaxing the smooth muscles that are squeezing the airway, making exhalation easier, and stopping the wheezing.
Side-effects of the bronchodilator medication include an increased heart rate (tachycardia) and shakiness. This medication does nothing to address the underlying cause of asthma; it is simply treating the symptoms of an asthma attack. Typically, one takes one or two puffs just prior to exercise to prevent an attack.
To truly address the underlying cause of EIA, Traditional Chinese Medicine provides an excellent treatment method. The theory holds that asthma has, at its root, an underlying Lung system insufficiency. In the case of an acute attack, many of the herbs used in the formula will address the symptoms. Some of the herbs have a bronchodilator effect, and others will be used to expectorate the mucus buildup. When the patient is not experiencing the shortness of breath and wheezing of an attack, more herbs are chosen to reduce the inflammation in the walls of the airway, and to strengthen the underlying insufficiency in the Lung system.
By the end of a three to six month acupuncture and herbal program, patients are typically able to return to their exercise routines without their inhaler.
Do you suffer from EIA and want to stop using your inhaler?
I don’t blame you. Click “here” for info on how to book an appointment with me and we’ll get right to work!