Exercise-induced asthma linked to sweat levels

By Katie Engell
October 9, 2008

Every athlete benefits from proper hydration and nutrition, especially those athletes who are predisposed to exercise-induced asthma (EIA).

Elite athletes have exhibited exercise-induced asthma because of their highly competitive nature.

Dr. Warren Lockette and researchers of the Naval Medical Center in San Diego have recently linked exercise-induced asthma with low sweat levels. They’ve proven that an athlete’s ability to sweat does more than keep the body cool.

There is an indication that athletes who sweat less tend to have a hyperactive airway, which leads to EIA.

Lockette composed a study involving 56 athletes and he gave each athlete two different kinds of medications.

Methacholine was the first medication used to constrict the athletes’ airways. The second medication, pilocarpine, induced sweating.

Lockette found a correlation indicating athletes most sensitive to methacholine were least sensitive to pilocarpine. The cause and effect relationship is not confirmed.

There is an indication that athletes with exercise-induced asthma sweat less.

“It’s hard to tell why people perspire. Further investigation on the correlation between exercise-induced asthma and sweat will need to be released before answers can be finalized,” Dr. George Kenis, pediatrician, said.

Exercise can trigger an asthma attack in those who do not normally suffer from asthma. People with exercise-induced asthma are more sensitive to changes in temperature.

“I have treated many young people with exercise-induced asthma. The three common triggers that cause this condition are cold air, rigorous exercise and polluted air,” Kenis said.

Coughing, wheezing or feeling out of breath during or after exercise could be sign that someone is suffering from EIA.

When at rest, most people breathe through their nose, which serves to warm and humidify the air breathed in to make it more like the air in your lungs.

People breathe through their mouths when exercising and the air that hits their lungs is colder and drier.

“EIA is not too common and doesn’t usually come to people’s attention unless their kids play sports. Most of those kids just use inhalers before their game or workout,” Cabrini nurse Sue Fitzgerald said.

Children and winter athletes are most likely to be diagnosed with this condition because children are more active than adults.

Winter athletes play sports such as hockey or cross country skiing which are played in cold temperatures.

Having one or both parents with asthma increases a person’s chances of developing EIA.

“It’s interesting because there was a recent study done at Children’s Hospital that said there was more air pollution and less asthma in 1985 than there was in 2005,” Kenis said.

“Asthma is increasing worldwide. Nobody really knows why.”

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Katie Engell

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