Hypermobility and Asthma: Do I have Asthma or Not?
When I(Stan) was a high school runner, my mother called my persistent winter cough, bronchitis. I accepted this diagnosis without question as mother’s are the source of wisdom to a young man. I learned from an article in "Runner’s World", to ease the symptoms by keeping the mouth covered with a scarf. My worst symptoms passed but a dry cough persisted through my adulthood, until a new physician questioned the bronchitis on my medical record. Upon explaining the symptoms of a cough with temperature changes and difficulty breathing during my competitions, he insisted that I had asthma. I always knew that my younger brother had asthma but never considered that I did because I did not wheeze. One day on an easy run, I heard him struggling to breathe as I did and came to accept that I have asthma. Or do I?
Recent studies such as this one from the NCBI: Asthma and airways collapse in two heritable disorders of connective tissue, suggests the following possibility with hypermobility syndromes. “In the non‐asthmatic population, changes in the mechanical properties of the bronchial airways and lung parenchyma may underlie the observed increased tendency of the airways to collapse.” “We believe that this is most likely to be secondary to the pulmonary parenchyma providing inadequate connective tissue support to the small airways”. These findings are worth discussing with your physician if you have difficulty breathing with activity and are known to have hypermobility.
Running without control of one’s asthma symptoms can be life threatening. The Lung Association provides a nice easy read for further explanation: How to Exercise With Asthma
Careful management of asthma or similar symptoms can also be improved with exercise such as running. Attention should be given to proper breathing technique. The breathing cycle takes place over 4 steps, 2 steps for inhale and 2 steps for the exhale.
Inhale is most effective through the nose, as the air is warmed and moistened in the sinus cavity. Inhaling through the nose also facilitates proper function of the core muscles, whereas inhalation through the mouth inhibits normal core function. But what if you are unable to get enough air through the nose, perhaps due to the extreme level of exertion or due to sinus dysfunction? Try touching the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth for each inhale. The positioning of the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth facilitates normal function of the core muscles while also allowing airflow through the mouth as well as the nose.