Asthma and sports - not a contradiction

Anyone who is untrained will quickly run out of breath in everyday life. This is especially true for asthma sufferers. Sporty active patients have fewer seizures and get along better with their illness. Regular exercise trains the lungs, strengthens the respiratory muscles and protects against infections. Most suitable for asthma patients are endurance sports with even load, for example, swimming, cycling, rowing, jogging or walking. Not recommended are short quick sprints like football or tennis.

Asthma and the consequences

Cause of asthma is a chronic inflammation of the bronchial mucosa. The consequences are hypersensitive airways. In certain stimuli, the muscles of the bronchi contract, the mucous membrane swells and produces more mucus, so that hardly any air penetrates. The patients then suffer from shortness of breath.

In addition to allergic causes (such as pollen or animal hair allergy), non-allergenic stimuli (such as smoke, dust) and viral infections, physical exertion is one of the major triggers for asthma. Asthma attacks and can be very sudden. It is therefore very important that those affected and also their physical education teachers and trainers have basic knowledge about the disease and know the necessary emergency measures.

Can deal with the disease

A prerequisite for asthmatics who want to play sports is that they are well-prepared for medical treatment and medication. Most patients take cortisone-containing sprays to relieve the bronchi and prevent inflammation and allergic reactions. There are also sprays and tablets to dilate the bronchi and respiratory tract. Relaxation training can support the treatment and facilitate the management of the disease.

An important goal is that those affected learn to assess their condition correctly. Anyone who has learned how to deal with his illness can compete with others with the appropriate talent and training in international competitions. Famous examples of top athletes with asthma are speed skater Anni Friesinger, swimmer Sandra Völker and cyclist Jan Ullrich.

Prerequisite: training

In special training, asthmatics can learn how to deal with their illness. These trainings provide basic knowledge about the condition, the treatment options and the correct use of the peak flow meter, self-regulatory dosage adjustment of medication, proper inhalation techniques, and proper behavior in a seizure.

Also for children there are such training programs. Among other things, it is about teaching the children how resilient they really are, because many - as well as their parents - are very afraid of an asthma attack and avoid any effort.

Check lung function

Sporting active asthmatics should check their lung function before and during exercise. It works with a peak flow meter, a small device that measures the speed of the air you breathe. Over-exertion can trigger an asthma attack. In the event of an emergency, a spray must be available to relieve an acute attack.

Many asthmatics are weather dependent: fog and cold are particularly stressful. At temperatures below four degrees and in fog, therefore, should not be trained outside. Allergy sufferers must pay attention to pollen and ozone pollution. Under such conditions, they should better transfer sports activities indoors to a hall. According to the German Allergy and Asthma Association, around 100 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, and over five percent of all children and adults in Germany.

The medicine distinguishes two forms:

  • Allergic asthma caused by animal hair, pollen, mold or mites
  • Non-allergic asthma, which can be triggered by smoke and dust, for example. Other factors such as physical stress, painkillers and respiratory air pollutants can trigger an asthma attack.

Chronic asthma develops when the cilia in the bronchi are damaged. The resulting mucus is not transported further and the bronchi are more likely to catch fire. Children with asthma have good chances of recovery; in adults, the condition can only be alleviated.

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