Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Not Asthma, But What?

All right, I'm looking for some help here. I'll try to keep this reasonably short so no one falls asleep reading this. :O)

I started running, sprints mostly, back in 1993 when I was in middle school. I had trouble breathing when I was running, but was fine during non-exercise related activities. Since I was young and didn't know any better, my mom took me to my general doctor and he diagnosed me with Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA). No tests; just said that that's what it sounded like and left it at that. My symptoms included wheezing during and after exercising, dry cough, yawning, tightness in the chest, and a dry burning feeling down my trachea. I started on Albuterol, but found no relief.

Once I hit high school, I continued sprinting and threw in the high jump. I stayed away from the long distance races because I couldn't handle the stress (read: EIA symptoms). I tried Proventil, Seravent, Flovent, Intal, and Advair with no relief. I suffered through track practices and meets, and became more and more frustrated because I couldn't control my symptoms.

I went to grad school and had little time to workout, so I mostly lifted weights and did some short distance runs (2 miles or less).

Once I found a job and had my own health insurance, I decided it was time to officially find out what was going on. After trying a strong dose of Prenisone for a week with no relief, it was time to hit up a pulmonary stress test. In the mean time I was training for a triathlon and found my workouts to be very stressful on my body. My frustration level was reaching an all-time high.

The results of the stress test? No EIA. My O2 sats were normal, heart rate was normal, CO2 levels were normal. Everything was withing normal ranges. My spirometery numbers are better than most people when sitting still. I lost about 6% of my lung function after exercising. 10% is considered EIA. After an Albuterol treatment and spiro measurements every 10 minutes following my time on the treadmill, the Albuterol gave me a great case of the shakes and no improvement (no surprise there). Another suggestion of no EIA.

So that's where I am now: frustrated and with no clue what's going on. Have I just been not well conditioned all my life? If so, what kind of exercise plan should I start with to improve my conditioning? Has anyone else experienced this kind of problem? I find that my heart rate gets up to 185 bpm shortly after starting any exercising and easily hits 195 bpm, which is when I start experiencing the wheezing.

I survived my first triathlon last year, and I want to do more tri's, but I need to find some way to control the wheezing or else I fear giving up on running, cycling, and swimming since it's so stressful to my body. Thanks in advance for the help.