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Why do I cough???(16 posts)

Why do I cough???noveread
May 9, 2003 6:43 AM
So why is it after really, really hard group rides or crits I get a cough? It only seems to happen on rides where I spend quite a bit of time in the anaerobic range. It doesn't onset as soon as the ride is over, but anywhere, I think, from 30min to 1 hour afterwards. It usually lasts a few hours and then is gone.

For the lovely details, it seems to be just a little bit of phlegm that creates a bit of a tickle and on the extreme occassions, if it builds up, and then I breathe really deeply, I can hear wheezing (until I cough). It NEVER happens during a ride, always after.

What causes this? Do any of you experience this?

Hayfever? Asthma?filtersweep
May 9, 2003 6:55 AM
There are all sorts of adult-onset cases of either- might not be full-blown asthma, but might want to look at a non-steroidal inhaler (like albuterol). Also, this is heavy duty allergy season...

My guess is that either way, you are using much more of your lung capacity than normal, and you are really stirring the pot for whatever is going on.
I thought about the "exercise-induced" asthma, but...noveread
May 9, 2003 7:01 AM
But it never affects my ability to breathe and never happens during the actual exercise. Even in the worst cases it does not affect my ability to breathe or require any more effort on my part to breathe normally. I thought asthma was a constriction of the airway? I don't think that is happening in my case.

Me tooScot_Gore
May 9, 2003 6:59 AM
After long sustained exercise, I get a small cough. Not just biking, but similarly taxing activities. Long, fast canoe paddles, water sking, and running (which I don't do much of) are other activities that come to mind.

Sounds like your same experience, dosn't occur durring the excertion, on-sets 30 minutes to hour upon rest and goes away after a few hours. It's happened all my life and I've never thought it odd, just something that came with excertion. I was a premature baby from the 50's, so I've always suspected that my lungs never got finished, maybe it's related.

Athletic asthma...Charlie Amerique
May 9, 2003 7:01 AM
...or something like that.

Sorry, I'm not a doctor or anything but I had a similar problem a long time ago when I raced and a doctor told me that I had something that I remember him calling "athletic asthma".
He explained that it's not really asthma but rather a reaction to taking in so much air through my mouth that was dry that it irritated my lungs and would cause me to cough for a while after exertion.
His recommendation was to drink a lot more water when riding and try to control my breathing by taking every possible breath IN through my nose (much easier said than done when attackign a hill).

I hope this helps.
That's interesting...noveread
May 9, 2003 7:07 AM
"it's not really asthma but rather a reaction to taking in so much air through my mouth that was dry that it irritated my lungs and would cause me to cough for a while after exertion."

Hmm, this does sound like what might be happening with me. For 90% of the rides I do it doesn't show up. It's only on the really hard group-rides or crits. Has not shown up after the few road races I've done, sprint workouts, endurance rides or interval sessions (hmm, what does that say about my interval sessions?? must.... go.... harder.... ).

The medical term is 'Hacking up Smurfs'...rwbadley
May 9, 2003 7:16 AM
A friend of mine was the first I heard coin this phrase. After a particularly tough ride, 'hacking up smurfs' is common.

Similar to 'hacking up a lung' but somewhat less intense. :-)

It's not asthma...sievers11
May 9, 2003 7:19 AM
I have athleticly induced asthma and what you are describing is not that. On really hot day at maximum exertion I will get it and I have an inhailer for it. At my maximum effort on hot days you tend to get dehydrated and this doesn't help me but I think it is part of what triggers it...I start to breath really fast and my heart rate flys up, I can only take 1/2 breaths and it feels like if I were to take a full breath I would puke. On max effort days I take a hit of albuterol and that seem to prevent the symtoms...if I have an attack, I stop what I am doing imidiatly and get into the shade, you have to be careful because you can pass out.

You don't have this...what you have is a build up of phlegm from breathing obnoxious amount of air through your mouth. All of this extra air will irritate you lungs from contaminates in the air and just the sheer act of breath. The stuff will settle in your lungs and as your lungs cilli start to move the phlegm out (30 min) you start to caugh.

THese little cilli have a big job moving all the phlegm out and that is why it takes so long to move the phlegm up and out of your lungs.

Drinking more water will help out, so will breathing through your noes more...but that is usually not an option.
Great explanation, thanks.noveread
May 9, 2003 7:32 AM
Yep, this is got to be what is going on. Many thanks!

Is it seasonal? Pollen?tarwheel
May 9, 2003 7:21 AM
I have had a terrible time with pollen this spring, the worst ever. In early April it was so bad in NC that I was coughing up globs of yellow goo after long rides. All the pollen I breathed caused me to develop an allergy and I've had to start taking allergy pills for the first time. In my case, I was coughing before, during and after rides, though.
Me too, maybe smoking for 10 years does something...Spunout
May 9, 2003 7:28 AM
Chances are, you don't have asthma. It is just lungs cleaning themselves due to the exertion, as others have printed.

BTW; over 10% of the pro peleton claims to have athletic incuced asthma so they can puff steroids before races. It is legal if you have a prescription.
**did** something, I'm 3 years a quitter. nmSpunout
May 9, 2003 7:33 AM
recently quite, question...txcross
May 9, 2003 8:12 AM
How long did it take for your lungs to come back, or have they. Started smoking at 14, stopped at 28.
That first month is a revelation..Spunout
May 9, 2003 8:15 AM
my SO noted that she can sleep because my breathing is quieter.

Then, as your cilia in lungs come back to life, you choke out all the tar and phlegm from your lungs in the morning.

After that, it is all fitness. I practice circular breathing, in from the diaphragm-chest-shoulders to expand capacity and work the far corners. Extreme efforts hurt, I have sore bronchials after a race and some light coughing, but that is just the effort IMHO.
You'd better shelve the 4' Graphix for a while ;-)sacheson
May 9, 2003 8:34 AM
actually, it could be athsma (but not likely unless it is accompanied with tightness in the chest and wheezing), but most likely it's a result of your body reacting to the workout and a) producing more phlegm to move the increased amount of airborne particles you're bringing in and b) some dialation of your sinuses after said workout discharging more crap and it flowing down your trachea.

I get it a lot, but mostly when I'm not as fit and I do strenuous efforts.
SARS nmXoc
May 10, 2003 4:07 AM