Asthma And Exercise Essay, Research Paper
Asthma is a condition that affects the lungs. It is characterized by difficulty in breathing, wheezing, uncontrolled coughing, a tightening of the chest, and increased mucus production. It is a condition that can strike at any age at any time. An episode of asthma can vary in severity and last for a few minutes to a few weeks. There is no known cure for asthma. Unfortunately, asthma has a wide range of triggers. One of the triggers that asthmatics struggle with is exercise (American 43). This trigger is unfortunate for asthmatics since everyone should include some sort of physical activity in life to maintain optimum health. Many people afflicted with asthma believe that a life with exercise is impossible. Exercise can bring on painful symptoms for asthmatics that can lead to a severe asthma attack. A severe asthma attack can lead to a trip to the emergency room, the use of an oxygen mask, the use of prescribed medications, and, in severe cases, death (weinstein 54). Although, exercise can arouse the symptoms of asthma, asthmatics can lead a healthy life with exercise.
There are a few babies who are born with asthma, and asthma can also develop at any time in life. Asthma is most likely to develop in childhood. Asthma in children tends to become more severe around eight to fourteen years of age. In addition, males are more likely to develop asthma than females, for reasons not yet understood (Brown 23). Most infants develop asthma due to a virus infection. Children in their teenage years owe their asthma to house dust and pets (Brown 20). Adults who acquire asthma do so because of exposure to pollens and molds. If the adult is over forty-five, chemical based irritants, infections, and cold air are the primary causes of asthma (Brown 23).
To best understand how lungs with asthma function, a person needs information on the lungs of a healthy person. There are two organs which are part of the respiratory system that allows the human body to breath. The entire respiratory system includes the nose, mouth, trachea (wind pipe), and bronchi (Haas 45). The lungs have several important jobs. One job is to inhale oxygen, which is fuel for the body’s tissues. The lungs also exhale carbon dioxide, a byproduct of the working tissues. It is important that the body maintains a healthy balance between the two gasses since the body depends on this balance to sustain vital organs, including the heart and brain (Haas 46). Healthy lungs maintain this important balance by taking automatically varied, unconscious breaths. This is done by the bronchi which are muscle. The bronchi will expand when there is demand for more air, such as during intense exercise. The bronchi will also contract when little air is needed or to block out an irritant such as cigarette smoke. The temperature and humidity of incoming air is also adjusted so that the maximum amount of oxygen can be extracted (Haas 48).
The respiratory system of an asthmatic reacts to a variety of irritants. These irritants can be allergies, foods, emotions, and/or exercise(Nolte104). When an irritant enters the airway, the bronchi responds by contracting it’s muscles to shut it out. In addition, the cells in the airway are stimulated and try to fight off the irritant (Hogshed 32). These cells are similar to cells response to an injury. If there is an injury, such as a cut, the cells rush to the area. Consequently, the skin around this area swells. Special cells release fluid to fight infection. Inflammation is a sign that the healing process has begun. The cells in the lungs also release fluid, but the fluid is a harmful substance of watery mucus. The lining becomes red and inflamed, lessening airflow. This reaction makes it difficult for asthmatics to participate in exercise(Shagevitz10).
Exercise is the second most common trigger of asthma after allergies. Sixty to ninety percent of all asthmatics are affected by exercise. An asthmatic who is exercising for five minutes at seventy percent of his or her capacity can trigger asthma. Exercise and other strenuous activities that trigger asthma occur because of the air quality entering the lungs. (American 43). When any one exercises, non-asthmatics as well as asthmatics, rapid breathing occurs, generally through the mouth. The air that is reaching the lungs of an asthmatic has not had a chance to be warmed and humidified by the nose as it is when normal breathing occurs through the nose. This unproperly warmed air may cause a spasm in the lungs. If the air in the surrounding environment is cold or dry then there is more of a chance that the air passages will go into spasm. Therefore, asthmatics should avoid activities such as ice skating or skiing. The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma usually will subside within a few minutes, but they can last for a few hours. This time can be delicate for an asthmatic. Medication may be necessary to prevent the condition from deteriorating to dangerous levels (brown 27).
The most typical symptoms that will occur when asthma is enduced is a tightening in the chest and laborious breathing. In addition, wheezing in the chest may occur because of narrowed air passages along with uncontrolled coughing. The sufferer will have to gasp for air. The face may turn a grayish-blue, mainly around the nose and mouth. In a severe attack the brain will not receive enough oxygen to properly function. Consequently, the asthmatic may become muddled or disoriented (Haas 147). Although symptoms may be extreme, it is possible for an asthmatic to include exercise in their life.
It is important for everyone to include exercise in their life. Health and fitness can greatly be improved. Exercise can improve diopulmonary (heart and lungs) health, increase the thickness and strength of bones, reduce cholesterol, and lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels. In addition to all these health benefits, the feeling of well-being and self-confidence may also increase(Roberts 30). It is a controversial issue whether or not exercise can actually improve asthma. It is most likely that those with asthma who participate in regular exercise programs feel their asthma is improving while actually their health is improving. The more one exercises, the more fit one will become. The more fit, the less strenuously the breathing during physical activities will be. The cardiorespritory system is now more efficient so lesser quantities of air are needed and gasping for breath is not necessary (American 102). Many asthmatics would love to be in good physical health with reduced asthma symptoms but is this level of fitness possible when an asthmatic is already in lackluster condition and exercise affects their asthma? I would say yes.
Many factors can make exercise for asthmatics possible. Those factors include using medications, choosing the right type of exercise for the individual, exercising in proper environmental conditions, and using proper breathing techniques. It is proven that using proper bronchiodiolaters, commonly known as inhalers (medication), twenty to thirty minutes before exercise will reduce the chance of asthmatic symptoms occurring. In addition, a thorough warm-up and cool-down greatly reduces the chances of developing asthma symptoms (Haas 44). Next, the right type of exercise is necessary. If the exercise is too hard or strenuous, the asthmatic will be unable to perform adequately and will be apprehensive to continue this activity on a regular basis. The activity must be one that the participant can do for at least twenty minutes at a time three days a week. Anything under this will not sustain many benefits. The activity must be performed in a proper environment since the leading trigger of asthma is allergies (Hirt 102). If it is known that a certain time of year is a bad allergy season for an asthmatic then the activity should not take place outdoors or in an area where the allergen will affect the asthmatic. Even if all these elements are followed, the asthmatic may still feel a point of breathlessness, within the first few minutes of exercise. This time is know as the second wind stage (Harrington 12). If it is possible for an asthmatic to push through this feeling of breathlessness then the second-wind may be achieved with a controlled pattern breathing technique. Maintaining a steady consistent breathing pattern from the beginning of the activity will decrease the suddenness of the second-wind stage. Taking deep breaths must be avoided. The exercise should not stop, but instead the pattern of breathing should be adjusted to the severity of the second wind stage. The technique should be done with loose lips, breathing out for two seconds then in for two seconds. The breathing should not be done to the point of wheezing. This breathing should be practiced before participating in the designated activity (Roberts15). Of course, if there is any danger of triggering an asthma attack, stop the activity immediately and concentrate on the controlled breathing technique and use any medications necessary. In most cases the necessity to stop the activity will not occur. Using these guide lines, the asthmatic will be able to participate comftorably in an exercise program, quite possibly for the first time.
Being able to incorportate exercise into an asthmatic’s life will be very beneficial. Many asthmatics will be thrilled and amazed that they are now participating in events they thought were to never be a part of their life. Many asthmatics may leave the complex behind that they are different or perhaps not as good as everyone else. Asthmatics can perform just as well as anyone else in physical activities. In fact, asthmatics have won gold medals at the Olympic games, but that is another topic.
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