I often feel a tightness in my throat and/or a sore throat while exercising. This may or may not be combined with a tight feeling in my chest. After exercise, I often feel like there is a lot of mucus in my throat, have a cough associated with this mucus, and feel a bit like I am losing my voice. The problem particularly occurs if there is even a small chill in the air, but can also be triggered by exercise as simple as climbing several flights of stairs. This is not a new problem - it has existed as long as I can remember (I've participated in sports since I was a child). However, while American, I am now working in Russia where much of the year involves sports played on chilly days (although I stress that this is when the problem is worst but not the only time that it occurs), and this is making me not want to exercise because of the discomfort. I wonder whether there is anything that I can do to resolve this problem. I am a generally healthy 35 year old female with no known heart or other problems.
I would greatly appreciate any advice that you might provide.
Normally, the air that is breathed in at rest is warmed, humidified and filtered by the nasal passages and upper airways. This process is not as effective during exercise because you are breathing at a much faster rate and through your mouth. Also, when the air is chilled, the air is not warmed as much. This can be very irritating when it reaches the airways. When someone has sensitive airways, as with asthma, this can trigger asthma type symptoms, including cough, chest tightness and mucus drainage in your throat. If your doctor determines that this is exercise induced asthma, a prescribed inhaler can be used 10 to 15 minutes prior to exercise to prevent these symptoms. Please read our Exercise-Induced Asthma MedFact at http://www.nationaljewish.org/medfacts/induced.html for more information.
Another possibility is that exercise can trigger an abnormal reaction in the vocal cords, causing throat or chest tightness. Please read our Vocal Cord Dysfunction MedFact at http://www.nationaljewish.org/medfacts/vocal.html for more information. It is important for you to be evaluated by a doctor to determine the diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
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