There are times when an individual experiences Coughing after Running or after a heavy and strenuous workout at the gym. This condition is medically termed as Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction. In order to understand the condition, it is necessary to understand the mechanism of the function of the lungs. After running or a strenuous exercise, the airways get narrow temporarily causing a temporary increase in heart rate. Due to constricted airways it makes it difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen and exhale out carbon dioxide. This leads to coughing, although there may be other conditions at play as well that may lead to Coughing after Running.
Does Bronchoconstriction Only Occur In People With Lung Diseases?
This does not mean that bronchoconstriction can only happen to people who have lung disease. In people who do not have any history of lung disease, bronchoconstriction only happens when they are performing some form of strenuous exercise. They experience relief from the symptoms once they stop exercising. This phenomenon is known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction or Other Symptoms Associated With Coughing After Running
As stated above coughing after running is caused due to constriction of airways which may lead to coughing after running also known as Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction. There are quite a few symptoms apart from coughing which an individual may experience after running. The symptoms may resemble that of asthma with trouble breathing normally but it is not necessary that people who suffer from Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction necessarily have asthma. Some of the other symptoms which an individual may experience along with Coughing after Running are:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain or tightness
- Stomach irritation
- Decreased endurance
- Sore throat.
Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction: Causes of Coughing After Running?
Some of the factors which are responsible for exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running are:
Quality of Air: The quality of the air where the individual is running plays a vital role in the individual developing exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running. Coughing after Running may be caused if the individual is running in an area which has dry air with no humidity in the atmosphere. Even an individual is running in an area where the air is polluted may also cause Coughing after Running. If an individual is running in an area where there is a high level of pollen in the air then it may also lead to exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running. Running in low temperatures may also result in constriction of airways causing coughing after running.
Overall Health Condition: The overall health condition also plays an important role in whether an individual has coughing after running or not. If an individual has a respiratory infection and still goes for a run then it is not surprising that he will end up having coughing after running. If an individual is no physically fit to carry out any form of exercise and is suffering from any sort of illness or infection then it may also result in coughing after running.
Magnesium Deficiency: Magnesium is an important element in keeping the airways healthy. If an individual has magnesium deficiency then it may lead to improper functioning of the airways causing exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running.
Apart from the triggers mentioned above, the primary trigger for Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction is endurance activities that require deep breathing for long periods of time. These may include:
- Cross-country skiing.
- Long-distance bicycling.
- Long-distance or marathon running.
- Long-distance swimming.
In fact, it has been seen that athletes who exercise almost majorly in cold weather, are much more likely to have Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction. Nearly 50% of all Olympic cross-country skiers have been diagnosed with Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction. It is believed that the change in temperature that happens in the airway while breathing in large amounts of cold air, which is then followed by rewarming of the air, is the likely cause. Another factor that may be behind this occurrence is dehydration that occurs from breathing in dry air, which releases inflammatory cells causing swelling in the airways.
Diagnosis of Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction or Coughing After Running
If an individual has a persistent problem with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running and is making it difficult for him or her to carry out exercising then the individual must consult with a physician to identify the cause for coughing after running. The physician may begin by taking a detailed history of the patient including the duration of the symptoms and whether the patient experiences coughing only with exercises like running or even at rest. The physician may test for certain environmental allergens as a potential cause for coughing after running. The physician may refer the patient to an allergist in order to get a detailed study of which allergen is potentially causing the symptoms of coughing after running whether it is environmental or something to which the patient is allergic to. Once the allergy test is done, the physician will also rule out conditions like asthma which have known to cause exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running.
Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction: Ways to Get Rid of Coughing After Running?
There are certain medications which are available to get rid of the problem of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running or in fact any other strenuous exercise. After the physician comes to a definite conclusion as to what is exactly causing coughing after running for the patient, the physician will prescribe certain medications to make the airways function more normally. These medications reduce any inflammation if present in the airways and facilitate more normal breathing even during exercises like running. These medications can be taken before you start exercising or running which will help prevent coughing after running.
Wearing a face mask while running may prevent environmental allergens from entering the airways and thus prevent exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running.
The medications of choice to get rid of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running are bronchodilators. This needs to be taken about half an hour before running. Corticosteroids have also shown benefits in getting rid of the problem of coughing after running but these are seldom used as short acting medications are sufficient enough to treat this problem and are only used if they are ineffective in getting rid of coughing after running.
Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction: Ways to Prevent Coughing After Running
- Before you start running, try simple warm up exercises for about 10 minutes. This will make the body ready for the much strenuous task ahead of running
- While running, try and breathe through the nose instead of the mouth as it helps more fresh air to get into the body and prevents coughing after running
- Try and use a face mask while running to avoid any potential environmental allergens from entering the airways and cause coughing after running.
- Try and avoid running outdoors during seasons when the pollen count in very high in the atmosphere. You can try running on a treadmill at home instead. This will prevent pollens from entering the airways disrupting their function and causing coughing after running.
- Do not try to overdo things. Run only as much as your body supports you. Trying to overrun in the name of exercise will cause more harm than good and you may end up having coughing after running.
To summarize, if you have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or coughing after running or after doing any strenuous activity, with a little change in lifestyle and help of a physician it is easy to get rid of this problem. It is always advisable to listen to your body and act according to it. Excess of everything is bad and this includes exercises also. Thus, it is recommended that in order to stay healthy do exercises and even run but take precautionary measures mentioned above so as to avoid having coughing after running.