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  1. #1
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Winter Cycling With ****ing Asthma

    It hadn't been too bad until now. But last night I did a social-paced 22.5 miler with friends from the local club : http://app.strava.com/activities/35470361 Temperatures were around 25-degrees F, and any moisture was frozen out of the atmosphere so the air was completely dry.

    It was an easy ride, though I pushed it up to about 18.5mph for the final 4.5 mile stretch. No biggie, and I felt fine while riding.

    Big mistake.

    After the ride, I damn-near coughed my lungs up I must have taken 15 hits from my inhaler - made no difference at all. I slept with a strong humidifier in the room last night, and today, the lungs are feeling much better but still not quite right.

    I have adult-onset Cough Variant Asthma (CVA) which is aggravated by exercise (EIA) and cold/dry weather. The tragedy is that I'm beginning to question the wisdom of cycling through winter, and last night my wife (bless her) started hinting that if I'm planning to continue cycling, we may have to move to an area that has warmer winters.

    I'm under the care of a pulmonologist - who doesn't know it yet but he'll be seeing me again next week.

    So I'm not looking for medical advice - just sharing (okay, ranting, and feeling sorry for myself ) and I was wondering how many other 50+ers share this or similar problems, and how you deal with them.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  2. #2
    A might bewildered... Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Got the same issue. Once I start coughing on a cold day I can't stop. It helps to learn how to ride in winter, which I don't because I'm a wuss, but I noticed on New Years that if I slightly underdress and keep a steady tempo to generate heat, I do better. It also helps not to stop, get tired, or go up hills

  3. #3
    Senior Member eja_ bottecchia's Avatar
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    I've had asthma since I was 6, I am 56 now.

    If you wish to rant, and feel sorry for yourself, I understand. Please rant on and get it out of your system.

    If you want some practical tips, please IM me.

    Asthma is a *****, but it shouldn't stop you from enjoying bike riding...even in the dead of winter.

    Be well my friend.
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  4. #4
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    Well two years ago I found out I CHF (congestive heart failure) with an EF (ejection fraction, amount of blood pumped out of heart during one beet) of 15% normal being around 60%. My PCP likes to say I'm a heathy 63 just with a BAD heart. My heart doc just shakes her head and wonders how I can do what I do with so little. Currently I'm class 1 meaning while I have CHF I currently don't have any symptoms. Me... I just ride slower, lower my sodium intake, take my pills and live day to day. I truly believe that if I still lived in Maine I would be in MUCH worse shape. But, by moving to FL a few years ago I am able to get out more. Last year mine wife and I visited all over the states and Canada via our small motorhome and logged over 7000 miles on our bikes. So I second the moving to a warmer climate. As they say, pack the snow shovel and drive south long enough that no one knows what it is.

  5. #5
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    I have EIA and many times have ended up on the side of the road gasping for air. I've actually passed out while climbing on my mtb and woke up to a bunch of little kids circling me on their bikes saying "Is she dead??" After that, I had a profound fear of riding alone. That cut into my frequency of getting out and I figured I had to do something.

    I found that taking Magnesium supplement on a daily basis helps with my asthma.

    http://drsircus.com/medicine/magnesium/magnesium-asthma

    I also will administer 2 shots of my inhaler 20 mins before riding. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I can ride for longer times without any issues.
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddha
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  6. #6
    Senior Member SaiKaiTai's Avatar
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    Had asthma since before I knew what I had. Other stuff, too... on a *good* day, I'm working with 60% capacity. On a bad day, I don't want to know. Not good. So, the bad news is I run out of gas (oxygen) quickly under load but the good news is that I recover very, very quickly. Inhalers only get me so far so I've learned to know when to pull over and stop for a minute. It takes me longer -a LOT longer- to climb that hill but climb it, I do.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Seems my condition is less severe than some I'm reading here. (But - I still reserve the right to rant LOL)

    My situation is - as I mentioned in the OP - that my EIA only kicks in after a ride, and I'm 100% okay while riding. I fully realize how lucky I am compared to those who have attacks while riding.

    Also - during some hard, fast rides in summer, I was 100% okay and I never needed the inhaler although I always had it with me.



    Quote Originally Posted by eja_ bottecchia View Post
    If you wish to rant, and feel sorry for yourself, I understand. Please rant on and get it out of your system.
    Yah - I was just whingeing in a semi-humorous way - and curious about how others handle the situation, since it's relatively new for me. But still...

    Quote Originally Posted by eja_ bottecchia View Post
    If you want some practical tips, please IM me.
    ...thanks - I'll take you up on that offer.

    Quote Originally Posted by DowneasTTer View Post
    ...As they say, pack the snow shovel and drive south long enough that no one knows what it is.
    Too funny!

    For a long time my wife and I have been trying to decide where we want to live when we grow up. Looks like that decision may have to be accelerated now...

    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
    I also will administer 2 shots of my inhaler 20 mins before riding. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I can ride for longer times without any issues.
    Interesting - thanks for the info. My pulmonologist suggested taking 2 hits immediately before riding - which I did last night. Didn't help much. perhaps I need to get him to consider a different type of inhaler. Right now I'm on a daily hit of Advair, and carry Ventolin.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  8. #8
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGlenday View Post
    For a long time my wife and I have been trying to decide where we want to live when we grow up. Looks like that decision may have to be accelerated now...
    Another thought - unfortunately, "avoid the cold" would mean giving up my other sport - mountain climbing.

    I had a really tough time in polar conditions at 19,000 feet about a year ago - it practically caused the guides to pull me off the mountain - though the altitude may have had something to do with it.

    Again - the inhaler didn't seem to help at all.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  9. #9
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    I use Albuterol. The two shots 20 mins before riding was on suggestion of my Dr.
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddha
    We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member ol geezer's Avatar
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    I, too, have EIA and it's fully controlled. That said, our bodies are all different and what works for me may not work for someone else. I take a once-daily (at night) inhalation of Advair although the doc and the prescription say twice-daily. I also take 2-3 inhalations of albuterol about 30-45 minutes before a ride. No problems. And during the warmer months, the albuterol isn't necessary - only in the cold air.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    I have asthma that is triggered by cold air (and by certain foods). The air doesn't have to be frigid, if it's chilly, that's enough to start me coughing as soon as I breathe in through my mouth. What has really helped me is this: I wear a lightweight buff or balaclava over my lower face, covering my nose and mouth. The fit is loose enough to create a pocket of warm humid air around my face, and to let fresh air in around the sides of my nose. I'm not really drawing breath through the fabric itself. My helmet straps keep the buff from falling down; it's not tight enough to stay in place on its own. If it's not too cold I sometimes leave my nose uncovered and just put the buff over my mouth, as breathing through my nose doesn't cause coughing fits as readily. It might be worth trying; you don't lose much if it doesn't work for you!

  12. #12
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    I suffered from severe bronchial asthma throughout my early years and up to the age of 18, when I left home for university. It was eventually discovered that I had an acute allergy to cats, of which we had 3!

    Over the years, I am now 72, I've had breathing difficulty of varying degrees, but since moving to FL 13 years ago I've felt better than I have since I was 4. I use Albuterol as required, but before a ride, I use this
    Power Breathe http://www.swimoutlet.com/ProductDet...2&Click=585917 plus a couple of Albuterol puffs.

  13. #13
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Mild form of CVA here (only needed an inhaler for about three years until we got things figured out.) I do two things in cold weather that help. The first is a face mask through which I breathe. When I exhale it catches moisture and adds it to the air when I inhale. On really long and cold rides I take an extra mask to use when the first one freezes. The second thing I do, it immediately hit a hot shower when returning home and spend at least 30 in the shower. I know it uses a lot of water, but it has made a difference.
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  14. #14
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    I'm another asthmatic. I find the various responses to conditions and to exercise interesting. For me, I'm better off in summer but still limited in that I run out of air during a strenuous effort. In winter I'm much more limited in how big an effort can be produced but as long as I stay below my threshold I'm able to ride with as much enjoyment as summer. I do regret not being able to sustain a fast effort. It seems that the bike wakes up and really begins to perform at 20 mph or so. I guess I should be glad these efforts don't put me down so that I find little kids circling like buzzards.

  15. #15
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Some interesting responses here (and valuable PMs as well) - many thanks to all who have replied.

    I have some experimenting to do, and hope your ideas will help reduce the symptoms.
    Regards,
    Duncan

  16. #16
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Be sure to keep us updated on what you did and the results please? Might help out others!
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddha
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  17. #17
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    Another asthmatic here. Had it all my life and it is environmentally triggered. I also have scarring from pneumonia and some asbestos exposure as a kid. I am also allergic to most pollens, animals, dust etc. I religiously use Symbicort daily and carry it along on longer rides. I have always found the best defence is a strong offence so I use eye drops, sinus spray and the puffer before I head out. In cooler temps, I will start by pulling a bandana over my mouth during hard pulls and step it up to a lower face balaclava as the temperatures drop. Good luck controlling your condition.

  18. #18
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siu Blue Wind View Post
    Be sure to keep us updated on what you did and the results please? Might help out others!
    Regards,
    Duncan

  19. #19
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    My allergist also prescribes Symbicort for me. This stuff is very spendy but works wonders. In summer I seldom use it but once September rolls around, even before temperatures drop much I'm finding it begins to help. He still prescribes Albuterol as a rescue inhaller but I never have breathing emergencies.

  20. #20
    Member DavidInGA's Avatar
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    Hello everybody,

    Dave the Respiratory Therapist here. Couple of suggestions that might help you with winter cycling in the cold:

    1. If you have any asthma inhaler at all, use it just about an hour before your ride. This will give the drugs time to come up to full effect and maximize their benefits to you. That said, you are much better if you can take an actual breathing treatment with a nebulizer if you have one. Why? 1. You get salt water humidity and this helps calm the irritation your lungs suffer. 2. Nebulized droplets, if you breath them in slowly, penetrate deeper into your lungs and do a better job. 3. Nebulized treatments are more effective than inhalters, particularly if you use two synergistic drugs such as Albuterol/Atrovent.

    2. If you have a anti inflammatory steroid, use it a half an hour or so before your ride. Why? It takes longer for this type drug to to take effect and these drugs are normally packaged with a long term bronchodialator, which also takes longer to take effect. Having these drugs working at their peak efficiency when you are exposed to the irritating cold dry air maximizes their ability to help you prevent an asthmatic reaction.

    3. Use some type of face mask that captures the moisture of your exhaled breath and allows you to re-breath some of it, thereby minimizing the effects of the cold dry air by mixing it with some moist, warm air. A knitted neck scarf can do this.

    4. Finally, moving to a warmer, moisture climate will help asthmatic conditions. Don't forget asthma is not due to weak lungs, but due to an over active allergy defense system. Preventing that system from getting stirred up in the first place is the key to minimizing it's effects once stirred up.

    I hope this helps,

    Dave
    Last edited by DavidInGA; 01-06-13 at 07:02 PM.

  21. #21
    Hey guyz? Guyz? Wait up!! Siu Blue Wind's Avatar
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    Wow Dave, a lot of great tips in here! Thanks so much for chiming in!
    Quote Originally Posted by Buddha
    We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
    Quote Originally Posted by making View Post
    Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.

  22. #22
    Member DavidInGA's Avatar
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    Forgot to mention in my earlier post:

    If you do have reactions to cold dry air, you probably need to have and use an anti-inflammatory steroid if you don't have on prescribed. A good one to use is Advair, which is a combination of a long term bronchodilator and a corticosteroid designed to minimize inflammation and bronchial spasms, which is what happens when your lungs get inflammed by the cold air.

    HI Blue Wind, you're certainly welcome, but I'm just doing my job.

  23. #23
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    Thanks Dave! Good info.

  24. #24
    Senior Member DGlenday's Avatar
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    Dave,

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidInGA View Post
    ...
    Many thanks for your insights!

    I'm on Advair, and I know it helps. A while ago I ran out, and decided not to get a refill because I didn't think it was helping. I was back on it within a month!

    I'll re-read your post, and will be armed with better questions etc. when I see my pulmonologist this week.




    On a slightly different topic - today I went on a short but tough snow hike in the mountains : http://app.strava.com/activities/36404295

    NO asthma!

    I'm not yet sure if hiking and cycling impact me differently, or if the effort wasn't as hard (HRM showed 142 average, 165 max), or if it just wasn't as cold and dry. Whatever it was - what a pleasure not to be hacking after this effort!
    Regards,
    Duncan

  25. #25
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    Another lifelong asthmatic here. I've taken daily maintenance and rescue meds for 45+ years, and can't count the ER trips anymore, and almost became a statistic when the docs found out in the 80s you can't mix a couple of 'back then' popular treatments....

    Getting to this party a bit late. Lots of good info.

    I'll add....

    SymbiCort works much better for me than any of the other maintenance inhalers (Advair, or any other inhaled propellant based corticosteroids). I've tried them all over the years.

    I've also asked my PCP (she is very well versed in asthma, and we've gotten it well under control, so I'm no longer using a pulmonologist) for the non propellant based versions of albuterol and budesonide (pulmicort). These are the ones in vials used via a nebulizer system. They work so much better. I've invested in a portable Pari Trek S system (you can get them all day long for $80 on eBay, no insurance or prescription required). It comes with AC based power and DC (for your car) based power. I've decided on the Pari pump and nebulizer systems....cause I've had almost every other brand....and Pari lasts the longest, and their nebulizers take the shortest amount of time to deliver the dose.

    So....long story short, I only do 1-2 SymbiCort doses a day, and 98% of the time I never have to do anything else. When things get a bit tough (cold/flu season, or actually come down with any throat/bronchial issue), I switch to the nebulizer versions. While the nebulizer systems take 4-5 minutes to get the dose, they are so much better in the long term results.

    If I get into a rescue situation (exercising, but only happens when I really get out of my comfort zone, and I'm not near the car) , it's Ventolin. If I'm anywhere near the Pari S (and can wait), I always use Albuterol instead.

    FWIW, IOW, and YMMV, I've dealt with it so long....I really think I've gotten a feel for when things will get out of hand with my asthma, and slow down to think and react with a treatment accordingly for the situation. I can tell (without being measured) whether my oxygen level is at 98-99% (good), or at a 92-94 (flu/bronchitis/pneumonia) or at a 95-97 (EIA, etc.).

    In the cold....it also helps to drink coffee and/or hot tea, and suck on hard candy (or some form of throat lozenges).

    HTH.

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