Sunday, 9 February 2014

Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction - Are you wheezing after pool swimming?

I have developed Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction or EIB for short (here is the Wikipedia Link: EIB).

This is a type of asthma that I seem to have developed through extreme exertion and/or interaction with chlorine.

I have met a few swimmers in Dover Harbour with Asthma and the reason I am writing this blog is that I reckon more of us have this than realise it. It's degenerative so it ain't going away unless you do something about it. Plus it will be a show stopper if you don't get this are spending ca. £3000 to swim the channel - this test will cost you £180 if not covered by your insurance company.

Since completing 21 mile Two-Way Windermere, I observed that after exercise I had started to wheeze a little (after the adrenalin of the exercise had ceased) and in the mornings after exercise I had started coughing up mucus like a smoker would probably encounter.

My GP at work duly put me in contact with a lady called Pascale Kippelen who is an expert in this field at the Sports Science at Brunel University. I went along to do a Eucapnic Voluntary Hyperpnoea Test or EVH test for short.

After measuring my height and weight, they predict what the power of your lungs are expected to be. After making me blow long and hard into something resembling a breathalyser, my lungs were deemed to be 128% of predicted which is absolutely off the charts and one of the largest they'd ever seen. I learnt that we are born with the lungs we are set to have. I just got lucky in the lung genes. There is NO scientific proof according to Brunel Uni that you can improve your lung capacity like you can develop your heart muscle.

Why then was I struggling for breath in the pool and waking myself up wheezing? - all this terrific lung capacity was not translating through into oxygen absorption. After conducting the EVH test which lasted 6 minutes of dry air & heavy breathing and loads of other blows into the breathaliser for 20-odd minutes, they found that I have developed a form of exertional asthma called EIB which many elite athletes in general and pool swimmers suffer from (it shouldn't be a show stopper if treated/managed properly!!).

Indeed, many athletes have this. Did you know that in 2004, 7 athletes out of the 62 strong British Team HAVE THIS (I am in great company!) who reported NO previous diagnosis of asthma. 1 in 5 GB athletes at the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Games were diagnosed with asthma.....that is a real eye-opener for me who does NOT have a history of asthma.

I can conclude that the TESTING IS GETTING BETTER!

I have seen and heard this being a show stopper in the Channel (sometimes as near as 1km from French soil). I now have to take a mild preventative steroid inhaler morning and night and will have a separate inhaler for the Channel swim. If you are wheezing after exercise or coughing up gunk you might want to get yourself checked out as when I talk to more and more long-distance swim buddies, more and more are coming forward suggesting that they are now suffering or have suffered with this. If I can help someone get across a body of water without this EIB spoiling the show then this blog will be a massive success! I was told that I can stop taking the inhaler if I decide to leave the sport (which I have no intention of doing of course).

Now I have been using the 'Roid Inhaler for 2 weeks and my pool sessions are SO much more comfortable with NO wheezing afterwards or waking myself up in the middle of the night. Plus the mucus cough/gunk has disappeared.

Happy swimming - it should be a breeze not a wheeze!