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Old 07-15-2012, 09:58 PM   #1
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Exercise induced asthma and climate

I have a 10-year-old child with EIA and swims competitively. We currently live in California but will faced with moving out of state soon. We have a choice of moving to the greater Denver, CO area or the greater Atlanta, GA area. We would move to a suburb of one of those cities.

Colorado is at a high elevation. It's a semi-arid climate that is cold during winter and moderate during summer. My son would be swimming indoors during winter and both in-and-outdoors during summer.

Georgia's elevation is not at sea level, but at 700-1000 feet. It's winters are mild but summers are hot and humid. My son would swim indoors year-round in Georgia.

How can I tell which environment would be best for my son, especially considering that he's a championship swimmer? I hear and read mixed opinions on the two climates. Some say hot and humid is good, and some say it's bad. Some say the higher elevations are good, but cold, dry climates are bad.

My son takes Singulair, Q-Var daily, and an albuterol rescue inhaler prior to exercise. This seems to be managing the asthma well.

My primary concern is with which locale would benefit his pulmonary health.

Thank you.

 
Old 07-16-2012, 04:18 AM   #2
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

That's a tough one. I've been to Denver several times and the altitude takes some getting used to. In the summer it's really pleasant. Haven't beent here in the winter but I can imagine what it would be like. And I live in Birmingham which has the same weather as Atlanta. The main issue is not so much the hunidity but rather when we have those days when it's hot, humid and absolutely not a breeze of any kind - the air just sits there like a 2000 pound elephant. That's what throws me into a flare. Cold are isn't all that bad for me but the altitude could be an issue with his athletics.

Have you talked with his doctor? What about someone in the swimming community who may be in the know about the 2 areas?

 
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Old 07-16-2012, 09:50 AM   #3
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

One important question is, does he have allergies? Atlanta, GA is one of the nation's leading pollen cities, especially in springtime.

On the other hand, I find that I have the most difficulty with exercise in wintertime. Of course, when swimming in an indoor pool, the dry cold air outside is not a factor!

It really depends on your son and his personal triggers. Do you notice that his lungs are better or worse at certain times of the year or in certain types of weather?

 
Old 07-16-2012, 01:12 PM   #4
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

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Originally Posted by janewhite1 View Post
One important question is, does he have allergies? Atlanta, GA is one of the nation's leading pollen cities, especially in springtime.

On the other hand, I find that I have the most difficulty with exercise in wintertime. Of course, when swimming in an indoor pool, the dry cold air outside is not a factor!

It really depends on your son and his personal triggers. Do you notice that his lungs are better or worse at certain times of the year or in certain types of weather?
Actually, it's both. We live in northern California, and all of our pools are outdoors. It can get pretty cold during the winter 25ish degrees, and the kids still swim. That's actually when I noticed it that my son was struggling with his breathing. Another issue I think may be contributing during the winter is the chlorine in the pool. Some of the chlorine sits right above the pool water (it's visible like fine mist).

Another part is that my son moved up into a more rigorous practice group last November and swims 1.5 hours each day. I think it was a combination of things, but def. the cold weather. His MD said that chlorine is a problem and swimmers who use indoor pools have a higher incidence of asthma.

He has mild-to-moderate allergies. He takes claritin and it seems to work fine here. California doesn't get a lot of blooming trees and such, so allergies here aren't a huge issue.

I've heard that warm, humid environments help ease breathing for asthmatics. That's why we considered GA. The Atlanta swim club is a higher ranked club than the one in Colorado.

Higher elevations are better as far as pollution and allergens (you don't see lush vegetation in semi-arid climates). Going out into the cold will probably be a problem, and I don't know if it will resolve by getting into an indoor pool.

It's like there are pros and cons to each location, and neither are great options. I've tried to analyze it, but I thought it best to hear from others regarding their personal experiences if possible.

 
Old 07-16-2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

I don't know how relevant it is, but my son is a bit mucous-y. We were at a meet last month, and he missed a night of his Singulair and used an empty canister of Q-Var for a day. He day he swam, he did well, but he choked up with some mucous at the end of his race.

 
Old 07-16-2012, 01:33 PM   #6
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

I think any issue with the altitude is rapid change (i.e., when flying) from low elevation to high elevation. If you live there, your body adapts. It's my understanding that less lush vegetation lives at higher elevations, which tends to be good for asthmatics, although my son's allergies seem to be controlled with claritin.

But, I heard that cold, dry air is bad and hot, humid air is good. I've never lived in a region with a hot, oppressive climate and have no idea how he will fare there.

I do believe the cold weather is bad. He swims outdoors in California now. His practices became more vigorous November 2011. That's when I noticed he was having difficulty breathing during practices. I think it was primarily the cold air, but the combination of cold air, a vigorous 1.5 hours of swimming in a chlorinated pool was bad.

I can't fix the chlorine in the pools. His workouts are only going to increase in intensity. The only thing I have control over is the climate -- cold and dry or hot and humid? There just doesn't seem to be a cut and dry answer

 
Old 07-16-2012, 01:35 PM   #7
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

I think any issue with the altitude is rapid change (i.e., when flying) from low elevation to high elevation. If you live there, your body adapts. It's my understanding that less lush vegetation lives at higher elevations, which tends to be good for asthmatics, although my son's allergies seem to be controlled with claritin.

But, I heard that cold, dry air is bad and hot, humid air is good. I've never lived in a region with a hot, oppressive climate and have no idea how he will fare there.

I do believe the cold weather is bad. He swims outdoors in California now. His practices became more vigorous November 2011. That's when I noticed he was having difficulty breathing during practices. I think it was primarily the cold air, but the combination of cold air, a vigorous 1.5 hours of swimming in a chlorinated pool was bad.

I can't fix the chlorine in the pools. His workouts are only going to increase in intensity. The only thing I have control over is the climate -- cold and dry or hot and humid? There just doesn't seem to be a cut and dry answer

 
Old 07-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #8
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

I can tell you that people move to the south all the time who have never had an allergy in their lives and end up with them within months of getting here. We have a long lush growing season and ragweed should be our regional flower - it grows all over the side of the roads and we are all allergic to it.

If he's swimming indoors a lot and he can adjust to the altitude, I'd say Denver over Atlanta. You have no idea how oppressive it can get here!

 
Old 07-16-2012, 03:51 PM   #9
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

Yes, if he has allergies out in the Bay area, don't move to Atlanta. During the springtime, you can actually see the waves of yellow pollen in the air.

And while cold and dry isn't good for lungs, super hot and sticky isn't either. In general, the human lungs function best when the temperature is between 50 and 80 degrees and the humidity is between 30% and 50%.

 
Old 07-16-2012, 04:35 PM   #10
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

While everyone's asthma is different, I would personally choose Denver over Atlanta. For me, hot and humid air is much more difficult to deal with. I live in PA and this hot, humid summer has been hell. I long for winter.

I went to Colorado last year for a week. I flew into Denver and drove up into Rocky Mountain National Park. My hotel was at about 8500 feet above sea level. The first two days were bad, we all felt sick from the altitude. (If I had to do it again, I would get used to the altitude in Denver first before going up into the mountains.) However, after I got used to the altitude I felt amazing. The cold, dry air felt awesome. I did some hiking up over 11,000 feet and didn't experience any breathing problems if I paced myself.

Good luck!

 
Old 07-17-2012, 09:30 AM   #11
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

Thanks everyone for your input!

I kinda thought Colorado would be a better choice, but the beautiful homes, big lots, great schools, and top-notch swim club is so attractive. But, I've got to do what's right for the kid

Thanks again!

 
Old 07-17-2012, 09:41 AM   #12
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Re: Exercise induced asthma and climate

Thanks everyone for your input!

I kinda thought Colorado would be a better choice, but the beautiful homes, big lots, great schools, and top-notch swim club is so attractive. But, I've got to do what's right for the kid

It's really helpful to know the optimum weather range for asthmatics, too.

FYI -- your body will get used to the high elevation, and it's good for athletes. Training at high altitudes helps the body produce more red blood cells, which means the body becomes better oxygenated. That's a bit better for distance athletes, but it doesn't hurt for swimming. Their muscles use a lot of O2 when swimming -- even sprints.

Thanks again!

 
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