View Full Version : EI Asthma and cold weather riding

11-11-2006, 02:38 PM
Does anyone have exercise induced asthma and find it harder to breathe in colder air? This is my first winter riding and I've been having a lot of trouble breathing the last three times I've been out. Temps were all 35-45 degrees, fairly dry air. I'm just not sure if it's the asthma or just normal cold weather breathing issues everyone has. I find myself coughing a lot, and having to clear my throat because of the phlegm (sp?) and more wheezing than usual, although it's the throat clearning that bugs me the most. It is really slowing down my average speed as well. I take two puffs before I leave like I always do but it doesn't seem to be doing the trick all of a sudden. I had the pharmacist check to see if the flow was ok, and it was fine. He suggested I may need a different type of medication in the colder air. Anyone else have this problem?

run it, ride it
11-11-2006, 02:56 PM
I too have EI asthma. Excercising in cold weather takes practice and patience. Try a 25-minute easy warmup followed by a 5 minute tempo (just fast enough that you can't carry on a conversation). It's torment while you do it, but it helps to open up your lungs.

I find after I have an attack and recover, my breathing ends up better than when I started.

Throat and chest pain is normal--but don't push it too hard or you'll ache for days. Chain-smoker's cough is also fairly unavoidable. Mmm, phlegmalicious.

Once it gets below freezing I like to breathe through a scarf to help moisten and warm the air. Cuts down on phlegm, and absorbs snot! Yummy.

11-11-2006, 02:57 PM
Advair rules :D

I've had mild EI asthma for years, but didn't get it checked out and treated until a few winters ago. First, I had an attack during a snowball fight that left me close to blacking out. Then, a month later, I got a cold and woke up in the middle of the night barely able to breath. I called the ER and was taken in via ambulance for a nebulizer treatment. The cold turned into bronchitis and I was coughing and wheezing for a month. After that, I decided it was time to get some sort of asthma medication.

I started out on Singulair and twice-daily treatments of Advair. I was also advised to get a peak flow meter to check my rate of expiration each day. At this point, I'm off the Singulair and only use the Advair in the a.m. on days when I'm planning to ride my bike or if my peak flow drops below a certain level. Most days, though, my peak flow is higher than average for my gender and age-range.

You don't mention what med you're using, but I assume it's an albuterol or similar inhaler. Obviously, different people react differently to different meds, but definitely get your symptoms checked out by a dr. Your dr can probably give you samples of whatever meds he/she recommends, so hopefully you'll find a treatment that works for you.

11-11-2006, 03:04 PM
Thanks to both of you - great information for people who have BTDT. I do have an albuterol inhaler. I only use it when I ride. My doctor said to give it a try and if it didn't work, she'd give me something different. I've ben using it successfully since last spring but this is my first cool weather riding so I guess I'll go back to see her.

11-11-2006, 03:05 PM
I too suffer from EI asthma. It took me several different combination of drugs and working closely with my asthma doctor to find the best combination for me. I'm currently using a both a Q-Var and albuterol inhaler. I also take singulaire and allegra at night. Talk with your doctor about your options so that you can find the medications that will allow you to control your asthma.

11-11-2006, 04:46 PM
Me too! Have had it for years. I finally got tested last year for real. I take a hit off my inhaler 15 minutes befor I ride but you can work through it.I always have my inhaler with me on my ride no matter what! Good luck!

11-11-2006, 10:51 PM
Run it Ride it had a very good point. Start out slow and let yourself and your lungs get used to the air.

I am currently taking Advair 500 2x daily, singulair 1x daily and albuterol as needed. Clariton during allergy season. Luckily I have never had an attack serious enough to go to the hospital or doctor.

I haven't run or ridden my bike in the cold but I have x-country and downhill skied in -0 degree farenheit weather. AND shovelled plenty of snow :(
The same thing happens to me, I get clogged up, cough and cough, clear it out and then usually do fine. or cough all the way up the chair lift and breathe fine skiing down.

I pretty much always wear a face mask over my mouth and nose.

good luck and hope you can work out a solution

Duck on Wheels
11-12-2006, 06:21 AM
There are also "masks" you can wear that help you pre-warm the air you're breathing in. Lots of winter sports folks use them since not only does cold air worsen EI asthma, it can also cause it. Cross-country skiers (purportedly _the_ most aerobic form of exercize, with swimming and biking right up there alongside) sometimes develop EI asthma after years of breathing in bucketsfull of very cold air. On the other hand, my son who had EI asthma his first couple seasons as a cross-country skier trained his way out of it. As his lung capacity increased, his need for medication decreased and finally disappeared. My 2c worth: Have medication available and use as needed; remember to warm up; try also a light mouth-mask so you get warmer, damper air in your lungs; train indoors on the coldest days; but don't give up training in the winter.