I know some people who bike might smoke or have asthma, and I was wondering if anyone had any tips for dealing with them while on the bike?
I used to get bronchitis every year due to second-hand smoke from my whole family. I still have to stop to catch my breath on every hill, and can’t stop wheezing.
(I’ve been to doctors before who said that I don’t have asthma, so I don’t think I can get an inhaler or anything)
An inhaler might help even for non-asthma weezing.
The problem I have is sometimes I hold my breath instead of breathing stong deisel fumes – sometimes I get lightheaded. Not the way to be on the streets.
The SO got an inhaler due to wheezing caused during exercise. The Dr referred to it as a condition but not asthma. Doesn’t always need it but has it when necessary.
I have an inhaler for exercise induced asthma… they’ll give you one if you describe your symptoms and request one.
Now you’ve got me scratching my head wondering if all of my respiratory problems are the result of growing up with a father who smokes… *sigh*
I don’t know if one person would cause it, but I’m the only person in my family who’s never smoked. It was my mom, my step-dad, my older sister, my aunt, uncle, all my cousins…pretty much every family member I had extended contact with had a cigarette in their mouth the whole time.
+1 to inhaler for exercise induced asthma. Only happens to me when it’s really cold out (sans balaclava), so as needed.
I do much better without my balaclava, actually. Mostly because I’ve never been able to breathe through my nose, for as long as I can remember.
+1 to the comments by drewbacca and JZ. Explain the situation to your doctor and see if he/she will give you a sample inhaler to try first rather than spend money on a presecription.
I’ve got the same problem as you with breathing through my nose. I can’t pull enough air in that way and have to breathe through my mouth. The trouble with this is that we lose the extra warming of the air that the nasal passages provide, so the air is colder when it gets to your lungs and that is more likely to set off the asthma.
One thing I have found with the inhaler is that beyond rescue use when you already are in exercise asthma, even though it says to use it 15-20 minutes before you exercise, I find it’s more effective with me if I use about 1 hour before I go out riding. YMMV.
I see my doctor this coming Tuesday for sleep-related problems. I’ll bring it up then.
@erica, if you haven’t already, you may want to consider that GERD/Reflux (possibly causing post-nasal drip) may be contributing to the breathing issues. Food allergies/sensitivity/poor-dietary-choices definitely play a role with my health issues… although I haven’t been able to peg the problem down yet (I’ve tried elimination diets, but the results are highly inconsistant).
I also have problems with breathing through my nose. Seeing an ENT specialist is on my to do list.
For now, I treat the symptoms not the cause with an inhaler for exercise and a nasal spray for the blocked nasal passages. Both help, but neither are a perfect fix.
I just breathe heavily all of the time through my mouth and sound like Chris Farley from that Adam Sandler comedy CD where his character, Fatty MaGee, decided to take the stairs. It is worse when it is cold for me. I had an inhaler but not anymore. I find that when I am in better shape, my asthma is more well controlled.
I find if have a mild cough, cold wind directly in my face makes it vastly worse, to the point of sometimes getting seriously light-headed and the pre-blackout grew fog rolling in. And it wasn’t (just) when I had been breathing hard.
Experienced once coasting down Bates… had to break hard at the bottom of the hill and turn on 2nd because I couldn’t slow down enough to get on the sidewalk to the jail trail. When a couple cars passed I got off 2nd, was in no shape to ride in that way. I looked at endomodo when I got in and saw that I unintentionally went from 20 up to 28mph just before the bottom of the hill in an area I would normally be slowing significantly to get on sidewalk and jail trail. Very scary.
Skipped the ride the next day (had other reasons too, but that iced it) and got a balaclava that weekend. Slowed down a pretty good bit the next Monday (can’t breath heavily enough through the nose without slowing down) and… no coughing fits anymore.
Did have serious glasses fogging, to the point I had to take them off and then my eyes watered from the cold wind. No perfect system I guess, fortunately my cough went away not too much later.
I sound more like a cat coughing up a bad hairball than that.
From Russia with love. :) If you have problems with cold air entering your throat then try to apply the following technique:
1. Make an “O” (big one) with your lips.
2. Put end of your tongue to root of two front upper teeth.
3. Try to take air in. You should notice that air will hit your tongue first and it will warm up.
4. This position is most restrictive (but still allows mucn more air in than nose). Move end of your tongue a little bit deeper and higher to the top of your mouth “roof”. It will open the passage allowing you to increase intake of air. Air will still be warmed up by your tongue and cheeks.
5. Set your tongue to a normal position to breath out.
This technique is the first thing taught in russian kid sports schools for cross country skiing and now for winter riding/running. It eliminates a lot of problems with soar throat and cold allergy.
with the weather warming up, I’m having problems again. Not during the riding, but every time I stop, I can’t take anything but short shallow breaths.
I wonder if maybe you’re overexerting yourself during the ride, and then when you stop your body is being shocked by the increased heart rate and respiration. On the hills, are you using a low gear?
From my own experience, using a lower gear than I think I need to, coupled with a mid-range cadence helps me stay calm and not spike my heart rate during a climb. If I have to stop at the top of a hill, making a conscious effort to breath in a controlled manner–deep, slow breaths–also helps tremendously.
I use a medium gear. On penn ave in lawrenceville, I use the middle ring up front and just one or two lower than normal in the back
I have asthma. Have since I was a kid. It’s allergy and exercise related so this time of year sucks for me. That said, one thing that has always been consistent is that when I’m out of shape and carrying extra 20-30 pounds of body weight (like right now) it’s way worse. Even dropping 10 pounds helps me a ton. As does cutting processe crap out of my diet (which helps me loose the ten pounds too!)
@ JaySherman From my own experience, using a lower gear than I think I need to, coupled with a mid-range cadence helps me stay calm and not spike my heart rate during a climb.
To no one’s surprise, I agree with this.
Just got around to this thread…
I’ve been mildly asthmatic since my youth but have mostly been able to avoid serious episodes.
This past winter though I was having problems with the cold air: the heavier you breathe the colder your air passages get. At some point I could feel the size of the passage squeezing down to a very small opening and would have to stop to catch my breath. It’s not like in summer after (eg) a hard climb: the air keeps whistling through even after you stop the in/exhale. Keep your pace in check seems like the only way to deal with it (though hard when you’re with others). I’ll have to try Mikhail’s dukho-disciple (looks like a good weekend for it).
I didn’t realize that I had a bona fide medical condition! Cool!
Wheezing and/or only being able to take short, shallow breaths are two of the main symptoms of asthma, which tends to be triggered by cold air, high humidity, allergies (whether seasonal, food-related, or environmental), obviously air action days, and/or exercise.
You can develop asthma at any time. If you have exercise-induced asthma, it may only be aggrevated when another trigger is present (in the cold, humidity, allergies, etc). So just going to your PCP and getting ‘checked’ may show no signs of asthma. If you were to go to a specialist, they’d probably work to trigger an attack by replicating what you notice causes it in real life, then give you a spirometry test, which is a valid way to measure asthmatic reactions (or severity).
Alternate to seeing a specialist, I’d imagine explaining the depth and breadth of your symptoms and triggers to a doctor would probably be sufficient for he/she to prescribe you an inhaler or give you a sample one to try in order to see if it would alleviate your symptoms.
Outside of having an inhaler to use when riding, if it is indeed asthma (which it sincerely sounds like), the best you could do would be to try to reduce your allergen load, if that appears to be triggering it (like removing pets, mold, anything you may be allergic to, from the house).
Be careful with an inhaler if you do get one…I used to get asthmatic bronchitis every winter, and carried an inhaler. While it did provide breathing relief, it also caused me to get extremely lightheaded for about ten seconds after using it. I have not had the problem for almost 10 years, and I’m not sure if albuterol is still the drug of choice in asthma inhalers, but I know it had quite an immediate impact on me when I used it.
I was given an occasional prescription for albuterol in high school (I used to get bronchitis at least once a year due to 2nd hand smoke).
I remember the “stoner kids” used to always ask me if they could use it. I didn’t notice any lightheadedness myself, but I also didn’t do any strenuous exercise either.
Albuterol can cause an immediate increase in heart rate, so if used while cycling could promote dizziness. That, or it is recommended to take a puff then hold it in, which could cause (or contribute) to lightheadedness. That should go away though! And I personally rarely have side effects from albuterol use.
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