Thu | Dec 12, 2019

Dear Doc | I think I’m allergic to exercise

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM


Q Dear Doc, I think I'm allergic to exercise. I am trying to be healthy so I exercise to lose weight, but every time I exercise, I start to cough, my chest feels tight, I can't catch my breath and I have to stop. This only happens when I exercise, otherwise I am fine. I even got checked by a doctor to see if I have heart problems and that was fine. I have always been healthy, except as a child when I had asthma, but I grew it out and it doesn't bother me anymore. Please tell me what I can do.

A I have good and not-so-good news for you.

The good news is that you are not allergic to exercise. The not-so-good news, you have not outgrown your asthma, and that is what is causing your problems.

What you have is called exercise-induced asthma. This happens when a person with asthma has breathing problems during or after exercise, because exercise can trigger symptoms in some people who have asthma.

Symptoms include coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe), which usually starts about 10 minutes into exercise and resolves within an hour of stopping.

This should not be mistaken for an asthma attack as you have already experienced. These symptoms triggered by exercise are less severe than an asthma attack.

Here's how to help prevent it.

First, it's important to see your doctor and have your asthma assessed, and to take your asthma medicines the way your doctor tells you to. Keeping your asthma controlled can lower the chances of having symptoms when you exercise.

Take your medicine about five to 15 minutes before exercising, particularly your 'quick-relief' inhaler, to help prevent symptoms.

Avoid exercising in certain conditions such as cold, dry air, which can make symptoms worse. Also, avoid exercising in polluted air or in dusty environments.

Warm up before you exercise. For some people, the warm-up period helps prevent exercise-induced asthma, but it doesn't work for everyone.

If you get exercise-induced asthma, despite doing all of the above, you can treat it with a quick-relief medicine, usually the inhaler prescribed by your doctor. Most people need two puffs to relieve symptoms, but if you keep having symptoms, you can take two puffs again after 20 minutes.

Always make sure you have your quick-relief inhaler with you anytime you plan to exercise, and if symptoms persist despite taking your inhaler, seek emergency medical help.

You do not have to avoid exercise completely in order to prevent exercise-induced asthma. Exercise is important for staying healthy. Plus, regular exercise and better fitness can actually help reduce asthma symptoms. Your doctor can help you figure out what kind of exercise is best for you, and how to prevent and treat symptoms.


Painful swelling after sex


Q Dear Doc, I think I have a weird sexual infection. I have been with my boyfriend for some time, so we don't always use condoms. A few weeks ago, we had sex without a condom and afterwards I noticed a swelling to one side of my vagina. I put ice on it and it went down, so I didn't think too much of it. But after the last time we had sex, it came back again, and bigger than before. Now it's getting painful and uncomfortable. I looked on the Internet, but none of the sexual infections look like what I have and now I am worried. Please help.

A You may not have a sexually transmitted infection and may, instead, have what is called Bartholin's cyst.

Similarly to how an oil duct in the face gets clogged and causes a pimple, if the Bartholin's gland gets blocked, it causes a cyst.

All women have two Bartholin glands on either side of the opening of the vagina.

Its purpose is to make small amounts of fluid. The fluid helps keep the area around the vagina moist. This helps with the 'wetness' associated with sexual activity. If something blocks the opening of a Bartholin gland, fluid can build up and form a cyst. This usually happens in just one gland, and not both at once. This is why your swelling is only on one side.

Most women notice a swelling, but Bartholin gland cysts often do not cause any other symptoms. The swelling may cause pain or discomfort when a woman walks, sits or has sex.

A Bartholin gland cyst can get infected, at which time it is called Batholin's abscess. Symptoms of an abscess include severe pain, making it difficult to even walk or sit. The swelling is also associated with redness to the area.

The treatment depends on whether it is a cyst or an abscess, the size of the swelling and the symptoms being experienced. Treatment may vary, from draining the swelling to a minor surgical procedure.

See your obstetrician/gynaecologist as soon as possible to confirm this diagnosis.