Trouble Keeping Up With Summer Activities? Beware of Breathing Disorders

The long days of summer make it the perfect time of year to fit in extra activities and exercise. Many people enjoy jogging, biking, or gardening during summer. Vacations also create time for hiking, kayaking, and other sports.

How does your body handle the extra activity of the summer months? Do you ever find yourself having to slow your pace or falling behind your workout buddy? Does exercise make it harder to breathe or lead to coughing or wheezing?  If so, it could be a sign of a pulmonary disorder such as asthma or COPD.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

pulmonaryfbIt is estimated that 80 to 90 percent of all individuals who have allergic asthma will experience symptoms of exercise-induced asthma with vigorous exercise or activity, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Coughing is the most common symptom and may be the only symptom you have. The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma may begin during exercise and will usually be worse a few minutes after stopping exercise. Symptoms most often resolve in 30 minutes and can range from mild to severe.

However, an asthma diagnosis does not mean you can’t participate in sports or other vigorous activities. With proper treatment and management, people with exercise-induced asthma can play sports and exercise safely. Your doctor can help you make a plan for management and treatment of exercise-induced asthma. This usually includes proper warm-up time and taking medications prior to exercising. It is also important to monitor respiratory symptoms before, during, and after exercise.


COPD, short for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a term referring to a number of progressive lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD affects 24 million people in the United States.

Symptoms of COPD include increased breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. Smoking is the number one risk factor for developing COPD. Long-term exposure to certain chemicals, dust, or fumes in the workplace can also lead to COPD.

If you suspect you have COPD, it’s important to contact your doctor. Doctors typically perform a spirometry test to measure how much air you inhale and exhale and how quickly you exhale.

COPD patients can help manage the disease with medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, exercise, and special breathing techniques. In fact, exercise can help improve the quality of life for those with COPD. Your physician can help you determine exercise guidelines and decide if you need to use oxygen while exercising.

Care for Breathing Disorders

If you have been experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing with extra activity, talk to your primary care doctor. Should you need special tests or medical care for a breathing disorder, the pulmonary team at Lebauer can help. Our staff includes 14 pulmonologists at four locations in the Triad. These physicians have received special training in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the lungs and breathing. For more information about what we treat, visit our pulmonary care page.

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