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Asthma

Sports Asthma Duration

11/27/2006

Question:

As a child I was heavily involved in competitive swimming (minimum 4 hours training a week from about age 6 on) until I tired of it around age 10. I`ve heard that this high level of exposure to chlorine at a young age can trigger asthma, is this true?

I flirted with other sports but by the time I was 13 I was doing no sports whatsoever. My fitness level declined and I was often breathless during exercise but it was not until I was away at summer camp shortly before I turned 14 that I suffered a proper asthma attack. When I got home from camp I was taken to the doctor who did allergy tests and peak flow tests. Though my peak flow was normal I am mildly allergic to house dust mites. The doctor diagnosed exercise induced asthma and prescribed ventolin for me.

Eventually it cleared up and by 15 I almost never used my inhaler. I`m 18 now but it seems to have reappeared. I was away at the end of october on a week long outdoor course that involved a lot of running and crawling. Although my asthma didn`t seem to play up I did catch a cough a few days before the end of the camp, which turned into a chest infection when I got home. About 2 weeks after returning home I was out running when only 100m into the run I suffered a severe asthma attack. Naturally I went to the doctor about this. However, over 24 hours after the attack my peak flow was only reading 340 (I`m 5`6 and 118lbs so I think it should be about 420, is this right?) The doctor then prescribed penecillan for the infection, seretide and ventolin, both of which i have to inhale twice a day and the ventolin as required. It`s now almost a month after getting the cough and although the infection is gone I still have the cough and am still reliant on the ventolin.

I`m worried that this won`t go away as I wish to pursue a career in the army and asthma will fail me on my medical instantly. The exercise induced asthma seemed to disappear after a while but given that I`m now on preventors as well as the reliever I`m worried that it has turned into full-blown asthma and won`t go away. Is there any chance that it was just a combination of circumstances and it will once again disappear or is it more likely that i`ll suffer with this for the rest of my life?

Answer:

The long term course of asthma is variable. Your recent flare may have been precipitated by a viral infection which is a very common occurrence. Now that it appears to be somewhat persistent you should seek advice about long term follow-up and treatment of persistent asthma. There are new diagnostic tests that measure persistent asthma inflammation. It is is not possible to predict the long term consequences of your current asthma. 

For more information:

Go to the Asthma health topic, where you can:

Response by:

I Leonard Bernstein, MD I Leonard Bernstein, MD
Clinical Professor Emeritus
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati