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Question
Posted by: clint | 2010/02/16

Coughing fits

The day I quite smoking is the day I started to exersize and as expected after a bout of exersize I would start coughing and bring up some phlem which I assumed was my body or rather my lungs recovering from the damage that has been done by smoking. My problem is that this coughing after 3 years have not been going away and I have experienced I particular heavy coughing fit this morning after I completed and easy 10 km. I am concerned because ever so often especially after a heavy training session I would start of with a light cough and then end up in a uncontrolled coughing fit infront of my gate. I still cough up phlem when I do. These fits usually lasts less than a minute and after swallowing some water and calm breathing it usually goes away not bothering me for the rest of the day. Is this something that I need to be concered about or is this still my body trying to rid itself of the unwanted smoking stigmata that probly still effects my lungs today. I am very fit and cover a minimum of 50 - 60 km a week at the moment. I recently had a lung infection in my left lung that has cleared up 4 weeks ago but these fits had been going on before this. My lungs was x rayd and there was no signs of fluid in them. I do have a history of asma but outgrew this when I was 12 years old and never experienced any asma attacks since then. Im not allergic to anything I know of.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi Clint

Wow, difficult question. Like you, I'd have though the smoking was the cause. It may still be linked, of course, perhaps there is a longer-lasting effect than we both would have suspected.

The other possibility is that you have some kind of reflex bronchoconstriction, which sets in after exercise, much like asthma, except yours is not a shortness of breath but rather an irritation of the airways that causes you to cough.

If you have had tests on the lungs specifically, then the good news is that it sounds like there's no major issue there. The history of asthma is also likely significant, suggesting what I mentioned earlier as a cause. Have you tried using a bronchodilator pump before and immediately after exercise, or carrying one with you while you run? That may clear it up right away, which kind of gives you an answer, if not a diagnosis/cause? For example, there is exercise induced asthma, and perhaps in a mild form, it's causing enough constriction to irritate your airways and to cough.

So I'm afraid my only suggestion is to try the bronchodilator before and after training. And possibly to have it tested, but hopefully the pump works.

Good luck

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Our users say:
Posted by: fitnessdoc | 2010/02/23

Hi Clint

Wow, difficult question. Like you, I'd have though the smoking was the cause. It may still be linked, of course, perhaps there is a longer-lasting effect than we both would have suspected.

The other possibility is that you have some kind of reflex bronchoconstriction, which sets in after exercise, much like asthma, except yours is not a shortness of breath but rather an irritation of the airways that causes you to cough.

If you have had tests on the lungs specifically, then the good news is that it sounds like there's no major issue there. The history of asthma is also likely significant, suggesting what I mentioned earlier as a cause. Have you tried using a bronchodilator pump before and immediately after exercise, or carrying one with you while you run? That may clear it up right away, which kind of gives you an answer, if not a diagnosis/cause? For example, there is exercise induced asthma, and perhaps in a mild form, it's causing enough constriction to irritate your airways and to cough.

So I'm afraid my only suggestion is to try the bronchodilator before and after training. And possibly to have it tested, but hopefully the pump works.

Good luck

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