Regular Asthma causes a constriction of the airways which leaves sufferers out of breath. It is often triggered by cold weather amongst other things and can be counteracted to a certain level with inhalers which widen the airways via drugs such as Salbutamol.
Allergic Asthma is triggered by unknown stimulants, the most common being the likes of dust mites, cat hair, grass, pollen etc. but can be almost anything. The allergy causes thick mucus to form which blocks the airways, again leaving the sufferer out of breath. After years of to-ing and fro-ing between ENT consultants and chest consultants I was eventually diagnosed with Allergic Asthma around 2007. After a couple of years or so my case was justified by my consultant for me to be put on a new drug called Xolair which is an antibody which helps decrease allergic responses in the body. In my case Xolair is administered via three injections every two weeks. Not great, but better than the alternative, which is nothing.
Before I was on Xolair I often needed a course of aural steroids to get things under control, but still things weren’t great. Four months ago I decided to get fit (see my Getting in Shape post). Very quickly I lost 2.5 stones through calorie counting, but more importantly by significant daily exercise. I’ve never been able to run due to the asthma, but I love hill walking. My standard daily walk is 5 miles and has me climbing about 1000′. At weekends and holidays I usually do significantly more. I was about 1 stone over the upper limit of my ideal weight, so now I’m well within the range. Weight just fell off and after only a few weeks I had to go and get all new trousers as all of my old trousers were way too big. My belly disappeared. But most importantly my asthma improved.
My standard route (6 days a week) has a steady incline for about 1.5 miles which goes up 800′. At first I struggled to get up it without stopping. I was gasping for breath. I couldn’t talk. I got to a significant corner 2/3 of the way up and caught my breath. Shortly afterwards I challenged myself to get all the way to the top without stopping. After a couple of weeks I realized that I was no longer gasping like I used to and now I can chat all the way up on the rare occasion I have human company. You should know that I’ve always done a lot of walking, though I’ve really had to push myself in the past due to the asthma, so this was great. Today I went walking in the Brecon Beacons with my son. On our 14 mile walk (with over 3000′ ascent) I couldn’t help but notice how I had to keep waiting for him. Climbing up Pen y Fan other seasoned walkers were stopping periodically for breath, but I had no such problem. When I spoke to my consultant and told him of my revelation he wasn’t surprised, but said that exercise is a great help for asthma. I only wish someone had told me that. Anyway, that’s why I am writing this. If you suffer from this debilitating condition I urge you to give it a serious go. Find a physical activity that you enjoy and really push yourself. For me it was hill walking, but if you don’t live in a hilly area or just don’t like this activity, then find another. You need something that you can do very regularly and something that’s aerobic. Riding a bike, running, going down the gym or an exercise bike at home are some obvious choices.
My peak flow has gone up significantly, I can climb hills like never before, the belly has gone, I comfortably fit skinny jeans (now that’s a first for me), my waist is 3″ less and I feel great. I probably would have lost more weight if it were not for Christmas and my new found hobby of baking bread. My wife has also majorly got into baking cakes, but even all of this high calorie food is not causing a problem. I still get mucus, but it is cleared pretty easily whilst exercising. My dog loves me more than he ever did before and the same goes for the wife!