Q: I had asthma as a child but “outgrew it”. I’ve recently started running for exercise and am having a lot of trouble breathing. Has my asthma come back or is it something else? Should I lay off the running and give my lungs a break?
A: Most folks with asthma as children also have asthma as adults, but they may have learned to avoid the factors which trigger their asthma. About half of adults with asthma have allergic triggers, but the vast majority have exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) when they exercise vigorously in cold or dry air. Your symptoms shortly after a bout of exercise sound just like EIB (not poor conditioning).
Are you currently taking any asthma medications? Consider going to an allergist or pulmonary doc and asking for a new asthma evaluation, which will probably include spirometry. Once asthma is confirmed as the cause of your exercise symptoms, the doctor will probably prescribe an inhaled corticosteroid and an albuterol (rescue) inhaler. Using the albuterol 5-20 minutes BEFORE you begin your exercise is highly likely to prevent EIB. If not, there are several other approaches to prevent it (see my FAQs). Please let us know the results.