Why do I have so much mucous when I run?
November 3, 2005 9:53 PM   Subscribe

Major Mucous: Whenever I do aerobic activity for more than 10 minutes or eat cold foods, I have tons of mucuous, and cough to the point that I have to stop exercising.

I'm 20 years old. I've been diagnosed with Allergies and Asthma since I was 7 years old. I take medications for both, and don't exhibit symptoms of either on a day-to-day basis. However, when I run for more than ten minutes, I get tons of post nasal drip, and feel like I have to cough. In fact, it feels like I'm suffocating, so I have to stop running. Things improve only slightly when I take my albuterol inhaler.

I frequently also have coughing bouts with lots of mucous when I eat cold foods, and sometimes I feel like swallowing is difficult.

I've talked to a variety of allergists and internal medicine people with no results.

Ideas anyone?
posted by creeront to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
The mucous is a normal symptom of your bronchial tubes constricting. have you ever been told to take your medication before you excercise?

are you out of shape and/or overweight? on any other medications? have any other medical conditions? do you smoke (or use other drugs)? have you ever had an allergy test (then went on to have allergy shots?)
posted by raaka at 11:05 PM on November 3, 2005

Response by poster: I do take my inhalers 20 minutes before my exercise, with no success. I'm 5'11 190lbs, and I'm on allegra, singulair, proventil inhaler, intal inhaler, nasonex, and allegra. I don't have any other medical conditions, and I don't smoke or do other drugs.
posted by creeront at 11:16 PM on November 3, 2005

Sounds like your asthma's not under control.

IANAD but I am an asthmatic; looking at your list I'm surprised you're not on a steroid. I'd go talk to your asthma doc about this, and see if they can buff up your regimen. You shouldn't be getting asthma symptoms consistently when you exercise. When I got put on the Advair, my asthma symptoms went from 'couple times a week or so' to 'whenever I get a cold or do something boneheaded, like accidentally eat a peanut.'

(For the record, I'm on Albuterol, Advair, and Accolate daily, and Claritin as needed. Insert 'AAA' joke here.)
posted by spinifex23 at 11:29 PM on November 3, 2005

Get this fixed. Do not let it prevent you from excercising.

I assume you've never had an allergy test. Get that done. You need to know if you could benefit from allergy shots.

It's possible you're not taking your inhalers correctly.

In the mean time, experiment with Benadryl (or generic equivalent) before excercise. If it's allergies that are the main cause then this should help. If it's solely the asthma then it may not do anything.
posted by raaka at 12:07 AM on November 4, 2005

It really sounds like your asthma is not in control. Exercise-induced asthma is common. Inhalers can be difficult to take, and you may not be delivering the medicine to where it's supposed to go. Sometimes something called a "spacer" can help with this. Also, Advair or another inhaled steroid may help you. Definitely see your asthma specialist and tell him what you said here. If he doesn't change anything in your medication regimen, get a second opinion. Ask around who is a good pulmonologist (lung doctor) in your area, and see that person.
posted by cahlers at 3:22 AM on November 4, 2005

Talk to your doctor obviously. But also try being persistent. I used to be the guy who stands in the gym shower coughing, trying to pull fresh strings out of his lungs and making everyone else wonder if they're going to get TB. Now my lungs are better all the time-- clear when I run and clear the rest of the time (except during pollen and mold seasons).

A puff of albuterol 10 minutes before you start will help a lot, too.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:13 AM on November 4, 2005

Obviously, get to a doctor. However, I find that I have more mucous when I've been eating a greater amount of dairy products. My mom always told me when I was a kid that there was a direct correlation and it looks like
Google might agree
. I haven't researched this enough to see whether this is legit. It may be something to explore, though. Do you have any trouble with lactose?

Regardless, I second raaka that you should get full allergy testing done, if you haven't already.
posted by Uncle Glendinning at 4:49 AM on November 4, 2005

I had asthma/allergies for about 30 years. This definitely impacted my ability to do aerobic sports, with asthma attacks, mucus discharges, etc being common symptoms. About 5 years ago I took a course in Buteyko breathing. After doing the breathing exercises for about 6 months I developed a kind of instant fitness in the sense that I could just get up and run 3-4 miles without getting tired at all in terms of breathing. It is quite remarkable, and learning this stuff completely changed my perspective of what Asthma actually is. I havn't used an inhaler or preventative medication in 5 years.

BTW, there are many skeptics about buteyko (e.g., the wikipedia article). I have a PhD in biology and found it compeling enough to try out (with ultimate great success). It does require patience and committment to give a real try, but it is worth it.
posted by blueyellow at 7:44 AM on November 4, 2005

My thought is that your case of allergy and asthma is probably more severe than the average person's. You might need to do some doctor-shopping until you find someone who's really good at managing this sort of thing - maybe a pulmonologist at a university medical center.

Good luck.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:51 AM on November 7, 2005

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