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  1. #1
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    Managing asthma, medications, and adverse reactions when racing

    I have both seasonal/ allergy related and exercise induced asthma. I've often used bronkaid or albuterol before races, neither works perfect but without some kind of medication I simply can't race without having an attack. I have attacks during faster group rides as well- the only time it's not an issue for me riding is when I'm out on my own and I can pace instinctively.

    I avoid medication when out training if I can, because I never like how it feels, but because of this I have trouble dialing in usage when racing.

    This past spring my allergies were worse than usual and I was having trouble breathing before the race even started. I took a Bronkaid, and then against my better judgement took a couple albuterol puffs as well (don't think I've ever done both at the same time before).

    It was a huge mistake- I hyperventilated through the entire race, and my heart felt as if it was going to burst out of my chest. I had a racing heart for a good 6 hours after the race was over, felt nauseous, sweaty, and just gross.

    My doctor told me the Albuterol was likely what did it.

    Now I'm terrified of taking either medication when racing again. I still take bronkaid when not racing (during colds), and it makes me feel noticeably jittery. I can't tell if I'm more sensitive to it now or if I'm just noticing the side effects more.

    I haven't raced since this incident, and I don't really know what to do. I love racing, but without being able to control my asthma I don't think I can continue.

    I'm wondering if anyone has had a similar experience, or if they've found a way to race and manage medication or keep their asthma under control without medication.

    I have a flovent inhaler- initially it seemed to lead to a dramatic improvement, (my lungs used to be much worse) but now I seem to have hit a wall.

    I'm also wondering if my expectations are unrealistic. I don't know or ride with anyone who's lungs are as bad as mine, so I'm always comparing myself to people without asthma. I know that I'm as fit many of the people I ride with, but my lungs just can't hang. Perhaps racing is just not for me?

  2. #2
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Just curious, where do you live?

    I get a bit of exertion-induced asthma, usually from crazy hard efforts like races, so my doctor gave me an Advair sample with to take before races. I've used it on and off and can say it makes no discernible difference for me post-race. It's never that bad for me in the first place, but people react differently so this may be helpful for others.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    I'm in southern new england. Is Advair similar to albuterol?

    My biggest issue is starting, especially starting out with a climb. Once I've acclimated my mid race pace is ok, but it takes a while for me to get to that point. If it's a fast start, especially uphill, I'm screwed- I'll have an attack, and it takes a while to recover. And psychologically, I can't chase people once they're out of my field of view. So it's usually me at the back, by myself.

    I've never done heart rate training, but I was thinking of trying it to see if that helps. I hate gadgets though, riding with too much technology is no fun.

  5. #5
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    anecdotal info here but my shit has become worse with age. We're using OTC allergy meds (claritin) with singulair to help control the allergy related attacks (so far so good) and a rescue inhaler (ventolin?/albuterol). Diet wise i just try to minimize sodium intake.

    What seems to work for me is a longer gradual warmup. like 30-45 min depending on what's in the air. If the air quality is good, a 20-25min warmup will suffice. I've also switched to longer (aka marathon) events which typically don't start as crazy as the shorter things.

  6. #6
    Don't be a sheep
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    My asthma has gotten worse over the years. I actually stopped racing MTB's because of it. March to the end of June I just feel like I can't breath and hard efforts leave fluid in my lungs. July rolls around and it's a miracle. Pretty much race Gravel events (longer, more endurance based) in the spring and Cyclocross in the Fall.
    "Do not touch the trim"

  7. #7
    Will crash for rim brakes
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    Quote Originally Posted by amandar View Post
    I'm in southern new england. Is Advair similar to albuterol?

    My biggest issue is starting, especially starting out with a climb. Once I've acclimated my mid race pace is ok, but it takes a while for me to get to that point. If it's a fast start, especially uphill, I'm screwed- I'll have an attack, and it takes a while to recover. And psychologically, I can't chase people once they're out of my field of view. So it's usually me at the back, by myself.

    I've never done heart rate training, but I was thinking of trying it to see if that helps. I hate gadgets though, riding with too much technology is no fun.
    Advair basically is Albuterol plus a steroid. The problem is that it's long-lasting and double the dose of Albuterol so two doses of Advair = 8 puffs of Albuterol. If you do that every day for months or years, eventually the body will develop a tolerance for it. That means a rescue inhaler all of a sudden may not work because the body already has a tolerance for the albuterol (the tolerance lies in a down-regulation of the beta-2 adrenergic receptors that help open bronchial tubes).

    So what people should do (and again ask your doctor of course) is separate the steroid from the albuterol. If they have asthma they should take the steroid every day for weeks or months, then slowly wean themselves off to see if the asthma comes back. Contrary to popular belief this form of steroid is generally not harmful in the long-term and will not cause a tolerance like albuterol-class drugs will. If you are off the steroid or on the steroid but still have asthma THEN you can take the albuterol as needed. Anyone who needs to take albuterol daily should see an immunologist and try to get on a steroid-only inhaler, like QVAR. DO NOT let them sell you the steroid plus albuterol in one package; the risk of death goes up 2-4x from these combination drugs. The pharmaceutical companies have made billions of dollars off the deaths of thousands of people this way.

    Advair Inhaler Deaths - Advair Recall Status News Talk to Lawyer

    To reiterate: steroid inhaler alone = good. Occasional albuterol use as needed = good. Constant daily albuterol use = bad. Don't be afraid of steroids. They could help preserve whatever lung function you have left.

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