ASTHMA AND HOW MEDICATION ALLOWS FOR INCREASED PERFORMANCE Asthma is a medical condition characterized by breathing difficulty that occurs when the air tubes leading to and inside the lungs become obstructed. Asthma negatively affects a person's ability to perform as it hinders the breathing capability and the amount of oxygen that can be taken in and distributed throughout the body. Proper medication allows an asthmatic to reach a new level of exercise and fitness. Topics presented in this essay are; medications used to help minimize the effects of asthma, a case study to prove that asthma negatively affects performance, and an assessment of how medication when taken as prescribed will improve a person's performance.

There are many medications that can be taken to control the onset of asthma attacks. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as steroids, steroid inhalers, and steroid tablets are used as perverter's and controllers of asthma. These drugs reduce the inflammation in the airways and reduce the need for other drugs. Steroids though take a few hours to have an effect and therefore ineffective if needed for immediate relief. Other treatments include allergy shots and Antihistamines which can be used as a preventer of asthma.

These reduce allergic reactions in patients and therefore reducing the chance for allergies to trigger inflammation in the asthmatic. Antihistamines however, cause drowsiness and should not be taken when driving or working at jobs where you must be alert. The medications that are discussed in the case study are bronchodilator inhalers (such as ventolin) and Cromolyn (Appendix 1). Bronchodilators are asthma relievers and there are three types: Sympathomimetics, which are similar to epinephrine hormones in a person's body also known as adrenaline, which is released when the body is under stress. This drug is related to the "fish of flight" nervous system that responds to stress (sympathetic) 1; Theophylline, which is the bronchodilator used in the case study, has caffeine included ingredients. This drug can only be taken in tablet form.

It is not known exactly how Theophylline works however, because a long-lasting tablet is available, one dose should be enough to control a person's asthma throughout an entire day. There are however better medications available to control asthma rather than just relieving attacks; Anticholinergic's, are compounds they work by blocking the effects of certain nerves which cause narrowing of the air passages by producing contractions of airway muscles. 2. Cromolyn (also known as Intal), is used as a preventer in a similar way to inhaled steroids. Intal is a drug consisting of a dry powder which can be taken orally and should be taken before exercising to prevent and reduce the symptoms of asthma. Cromolyn should not be taken to relieve asthma after exercise as it will not be effective.

3. This case study is about a girl named Christie. (Appendix 1) 4 Christie is a 17-year-old female with allergic asthma. Her asthma has been difficult to control despite being on different medications such as bronchodilator inhalers, Theophylline pills and Cromolyn. Due to the severity of her asthma, she has had to give up many of her favourite outdoor sports. Christie is very sensitive to pollen and house dust.

These items are instrumental in causing asthma attacks. The pollen outdoors is unavoidable, but with the addition of heavy exercises such as soccer, attacks occur much more rapidly and severely. She was advised to stay away from things that she was allergic to and start taking relatively large doses of inhaled bronchodilator. During the next soccer season, Christie again had attacks while playing soccer, but not as any other time. She was advised by her doctor to increase the steroid inhaler dose to two puffs, three times a day throughout the pollen season.

She was also advised to take four puffs of her bronchodilator medication before exercising. (Appendix 1) As well, she was told to take a number of puffs from her bronchodilator inhaler if she had an attack while exercising and not to rush to the hospital when experiencing difficulties. Christie was instructed to take many medications including a Theophylline drug before exercising. However, this drug is used to relieve attacks, not to control the asthma. By taking the drug prior to exercising, the Theophylline had little effect on Christie's asthma. Her doctor should have prescribed other medications for her to take instead of, or along with Theophylline because of the amount of time this drug takes to be effective.

The best bronchodilator that could have been prescribed for Christie is bete-agonists. These bronchodilators produce the greatest effect with the least side effects and last for long periods of time. Theophylline may be a useful additional bronchodilator to add to beta-agonists in some patients. During the pollen season, much more of the pollen allergen is inhaled, particularly during exercise. This will cause a more severe allergic reaction as Christie experienced. Christie was advised that she may find it necessary to continue the larger dose of steroids throughout the pollen season, and she may require four puffs rather than two of the bronchodilator medication before exercising and playing soccer.

If doing this is not successful, then adding 2 -4 puffs of Cromolyn to her bronchodilator before participating in these activities should prevent asthma attacks from occurring. Christie however, did not follow her doctors orders to double the steroid inhalers from one to two puffs three times a day and therefore continued to have difficulties while playing soccer. Fortunately, she was able to control the attack over a period of 15 minutes. During this time she took 18 puffs from her bronchodilator. Had she not followed the instructions of her doctor to take numerous puffs to control the asthma, she may have found herself in a life threatening situations. Fortunately she was able to walk away from her experience with only a mild tremor.

The doctor at the clinic understood Christie's asthmatic condition. He prescribed certain doses knowing that they are not harmful and that they can only help Christie. As well, he told Christie that there was no need to make emergency hospital visits if an attack did occur. The medication Christie carried and used, was similar to those used in hospitals to relieve attacks and by taking numerous puffs, Christie would find relief in minutes. By taking the prescribed amounts before exercising, Christie would first be capable of playing in and completing a full game of soccer without having to worry about another attack occurring. Second, with the asthma under control and Christie understanding this, it would psychologically help her performance because she would acknowledge the fact that she could give 100 percent efforts and not have to hold back or slow down during the game.

Therefore, Christie could increase her performance in areas where she might otherwise hold back (for example, full field sprints or defensive challenges). Proper medication allows an asthmatic to reach a ne level of exercise and fitness. With proper medication and correct doses, an athlete can conquer asthma and reach new heights in his or her performance levels. Exercise is one of the triggers of asthma and this may discourage people with asthma from taking part in sports activities.

However, proper treatment will allow most asthmatics, both children and adults, to exercise normally. People with asthma should always carry their medication with them as well as an emergency or attack card with them in their wallets in case an attack should occur. A person should participate in all athletic aspects as possible. Asthma should not be a determining factor in a person's exercising activities.

Asthma is just one barrier toward an athlete's peak performance level. Once an athlete breaks through... the road to some greater expectations can begin! 37 c.