Asthma- recently diagnosed

Hi, I am hoping some of you may be able to help me. I have very recently been diagnosed with asthma, initially thought it was exercise induced but it is just asthma which gets much worse with exercise, not too sure of the difference.

I am due to get a steroid inhaler tomorrow but for the last few weeks have been using the reliever, lots! I was wondering how frequently during a run other people have to take their inhalers. I seem to need mine every 20 mins or so and then at the end. This seems excessive when I read the leaflet and the nurse, although very helpful, didn't really seem to have a lot of advice about the use during a run.

As I said any advice would be welcome as I have managed to drop at least 2minutes per mile this year through breathing problems. As I was already a 'back of the pack' plodder  there isn't really anywhere else for me to go!


  • When you get your steroid inhaler use it as instructed even if you are experiencing no symptoms of asthma.  It might take a few weeks or so to become effective. The asthma nurse at your GP surgery should monitor you regularly to make sure your treatment is effective, If not then your medication might need to be changed.

    In the meanwhile take a couple of puffs of your reliever before you start running.  Anti histamines tablets might help in some cases if the asthma is an allergic reaction.

  • Hi, I am an asthma doctor and a runner. I'll assume that whoever told you that you have asthma has made the correct diagnosis (though it isn't always easy to be certain.). Asthma made worse by exercise is almost always due to poorly controlled asthma and should be treated in a standard way. One of the main problems with asthma is that your lungs get very inflamed. The reliever inhalers (usually ventolin or salbutamol) temporarily open up your airways a bit so make you feel a bit better for a while but don't do anything to treat the inflammation. The steroid inhaler is a much better form of treatment as it controls this inflammation and gets to the root of the problem. Taking lots of ventolin but not taking a steroid inhaler can actually be quite dangerous so you are right to get started as soon as possible on a steroid inhaler. There are lots of different steroid inhalers and some of them are easier to use than others for example an "easibreathe" inhaler is often easier to get the hang of. It is important that someone - a pharmacist, asthma nurse or doctor actually demonstrates how to use the inhaler to you. You should take the steroid inhaler regularly twice a day even on days when you feel totally well as it controls the inflammation which leads to your breathlessness. After you have been on the steroid inhaler for a week or two your asthma should improve so that you only need to take the reliever occasionally, for example before a run or after a hard session. If you still need your reliever a lot then you will need to go back to your doctor, or even better, get referred to a hospital asthma clinic for more tests to see whether you definitely have asthma or another breathing problem. Many patients with asthma also benefit from seeing a physiotherapist for breathing exercises - we should all breathe through the nose and mainly using the diaphragm. It can be quite hard to manage this if you have asthma made worse by exercise but physiotherapy is very helpful. The good news is that if you do have asthma, once you get on the right treatment your symptoms should improve and your running should get much better. Asthma is common in athletes and lots of runners do well despite asthma eg Paula Radcliffe. The Asthma UK website is very good and there are asthma specialist nurses on there who can answer your questions, I think you can also phone them for advice. Good luck.

  • Thanks for your responses they are very helpful and I feel a little more positive that things should improve.

    Bess, I have been diagnosed based on my peak flow diary I have been keeping for a few weeks and a spirometry test I did today - is this the sort of thing you were meaning?

    I will have a look at asthma uk and it definitely sounds like I have been needing the inhaler too much so fingers crossed and thanks again!


  • Hi Savi, yes peak flow diary and spirometry are the right tests to start with, the next step is to take the steroid inhaler regularly as you plan to do. You should definitely get much much better with this, if you don't go back to the GP for a further review. You'll be getting towards the front of the pack before you know it, asthma treatment is very effective and shouldn't stop you running.
  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    I was in exactly the same position as you a few years ago, savi.

    Developed asthma for the first time in my life in my late 40s (quite a common time for the onset of it).  I seem to be symptom free in the summer but as soon as cold weather comes I am affected.  In fact during a couple of recent autumns I was struggling to breathe and had pneumonia-like symptoms that low-dose inhalers didn't seem to be touching.  I was referred to chest clinic which I attended for a year and they gradually got the asthma stabilised.   The type and dosage of the steroid inhaler has to be experimented with.  (I think I was the only patient who ran 6 miles to the clinic and back!)

    I start my current steroid inhaler about October time and use the reliever only when necessary, but always carry it with me in long races.  A good tip I have picked up is to take 2 puffs of the reliever about 15 minutes before starting running and that sees me to the end of most events.   You shouldn't need to use it every 20 minutes.  I'm sure you'll find you'll be able to get your symptoms under control eventually once you start using preventers.


    In the winter I've had to learn I can't race.  In training runs I prevent myself breathing in too much cold air by wearing a buff over my mouth and when very cold over nose and mouth.

    It's hard to know whether having asthma has slowed my performance since I am at an age where performances are likely to start slowing anyway, but I suspect it has a little.  But I still do about 10 marathons or ultras a year and it hasn't stopped my enjoyment of running in the slightest.

    Good luck.




  • Thanks T Rex that sounds very similar to my experiences I am 45 and I didn't realise that could asthma start at this great age. I will try the buff idea as I did end up tying a scarf around my face the other day as I couldn't stop coughing in the cold air when I was chopping a tree down for my dad.

    It is good to know there are other people out there who are able to keep up the running and even do ultras ......image

  • T RexT Rex ✭✭✭

    I've been OK up to 100 miles, anyway ...

    (I do have to use the reliever a couple of times during events of that length.)

  • That's awesome but unfortunatley I think I'd need more than an inhaler to get me to those levels. I need all the extra bits like determination, commitment to training etc etc image

  • Another question! How can I tell what is an asthma cough and what is the sort of cough that you should not go for a run with. I am a little paranoid as I ran with a cough earlier in the year and ended up with pneumonia and can not face that all over again.
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