I have been doing a lot more cardio training recently compared to the past six months, and I’ve been suffering from these very hacking, dry coughing fits in the middle of or after the end of my workouts that last for hours. Even this morning, my chest still feels a little tight, like I need to cough, and that is from working out last night. I’m sure it’s related to the dry air where I live (I’m not sick, and I’m not a smoker), but I was wondering if the Research Team had any suggestions?
I have some questions for you to ask yourself before we get into what could possibly be causing this. As most of the time, the answer is always in the question!:
- How much cardio are you doing now, and how little were you doing before?
- What type of machine are you using?
- Do you do any other types of exercise, cardio, movement, etc?
- How many hours do you sleep per night? What time do you go to bed/get up? Do you sleep soundly?
- How many hours do you work per day? Is your job stressful? Do you have any hobbies?
- How much water do you drink per day? How much caffeine, coffee and juice do you drink?
- Did something traumatic just happen in your life recently that has affected you emotionally?
The reason I am asking you these questions is 1) the best way to learn/heal is from your own spoken words 2) when I work with clients, the more I know about them and assess them, the more I can individualize why they have certain symptoms/complaints and 3) most of the time, it is not what you are doing that is causing your issues at hand (i.e., cardio is just facilitating it), but it is something that you are not doing in your everyday life that is the real issue.
I am going to give you some insight into what might be causing your coughing, chest pain and discomfort. But it is up to you to figure out why YOU have these issues in order to individualize WHY and WHAT to do to treat it.
Amount of Cardio
If you are doing more cardio than you have in the past, how much more are you doing? Are you doing too much? How long are you doing it? If you are doing more cardio, doing it for a much long time, doing it more times per week, etc, you may be putting your body into an increased stressed (sympathetic) state.
Most people get to bed late, up early, eat little to no breakfast, have a coffee, eat a high carb lunch, drink more coffee and eat more carb snacks all day and then go to work out. So, you are already in a sympathetic state and then you add to it by doing more cardio than you have in the past. This just adds more fuel to the fire and puts you deeper into a catabolic (tissue breakdown) state. My first insight would be to try to work on the above principles of sleep, hydration, food quality and quantity and the right amount of movement. Try cutting back on the amount of time you are doing cardio and the number of days. Start simple, and see if cutting back helps.
It sounds like you might have some sort of respiration issue such as exercise-induced asthma. This can happen from the below:
- Breathing with your mouth during exercise.
- Doing cardio at too high a skill level for your respiratory system.
- Forward head posture and decreased first rib angle.
- Eating foods that have a lot of additives and preservatives.
- Being chronically dehydrated.
- Eating foods high in sugar, eating too much sugar or eating too many carbs in relation to protein and fat.
Most Americans have chronic inflammation going on inside their bodies. This happens from eating a diet too high in carbs and/or sugar, eating conventional grain fed meats, which are higher in bad fats and Omega 6 EFAs, from taking OTC or Rx meds, from chronic emotional/physical and financial stress. The body reacts to these is the same way. But the main important one to focus on is the Omega 6 to Omega 3 EFA ratio. Each time we eat them, if there is an imbalance, this triggers the immune system to release one or the other or both from the cell membrane.
We will keep it simple. Omega 3 EFAs release anti-inflammatory leukotrines (which relax the airways, blood vessels and increase circulation) prostaglandins PG 3 and PG1 (which improve circulation, relax the blood vessels, relax muscle spasms and reduce blood clotting). Omega 6 EFAs release leukotrines (which constrict the airways, promote inflammation), thromboxane (which constricts the blood vessels and airways, increases clotting and reduces circulation) and prostaglandin PG2 (which increases swelling, clotting and fever). So to make a long story short, you can eliminate grain-fed meats from your diet, increase the amount of Omega 3 EFAs through supplementation and/or do the Fatty Acid Profile lab through Metametrix to find out your exact ratios. (Click here to watch a 15 minute clip on Essential Fatty Acids.)
“It has been recognized that asthmatics have an increase in histamine content of their lung tissue and that is the histamine that regulates bronchial muscle contractions (Batmangheligdji, 115). Dehydration is one of the many major stressors we can inflict upon our body. I would have to say that 100 percent of the clients that walk through my door are dehydrated. As well, when they start drinking the recommended amount of half your body weight in ounces of water a day, most of their aches and pains are alleviated. When we are dehydrated, the body releases more histamine to regulate who and what gets water and where it goes. When you are short of breath, the histamine is causing vasoconstriction in the lungs, preserving water for the lungs. When we breathe, water is evaporated in the lungs. But when there is an increase in histamine, there is constriction and less water evaporation, which is a natural conservation of the body’s water. So if you have asthma, have a client with asthma or know anyone with this disorder, one of my first recommendations is to drink water!
The next thing I want to talk about in relation to water is potassium. Many Americans, young and old, drink OJ in the morning secondary to the belief that it contains lots of vitamins. The OJ of today is enriched and usually full of sugar and harmful pesticides, herbicides and fungicides from the GMO oranges used in its production. My recommendation is to stay away from it. Also, OJ contains high levels of potassium. According to Dr. Batmangheligdji in “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water,” he states, “High loads of potassium in the body can promote more than usual histamine production.” As you know, histamine causes vasoconstriction, which will exacerbate your symptoms. The only thing our body was designed to drink was water. Drinking water in the morning will not only aid in the healing process of asthma but will also aid with digestion and much more.
The last topic in relation to water is salt. I am not talking about our toxic and bleached table salt (NaCl). I am talking about Celtic Sea Salt, which is taken from the ocean, dried naturally and then sold without being chemically altered. When you are dehydrated, you body begins to conserve salt (1). The problem is that with the poor diet of America today, people are either eating too much NaCl, or they are on a salt-free diet of some sort. So when it comes to dehydration and the conservation of salt, this can be a problem. How does salt relate to water in the body, as well as asthma? When we breathe in and out, the body needs water to keep the lungs and airway passages moist. When we are dehydrated, the body produces mucous to protect the lungs and the airways. Over a period of time, there is more mucous build up, and air has trouble going in and coming out. The end result is chronic asthma and a life of constant phlegm. Well, this is the point that salt comes in. First off, salt is a natural antihistamine as well as a mucous breaker. In order for the body to be reassured, there must be water and salt present before there is relaxation and secretion of the mucous. According to Dr. Batmangheligdji, a pinch of salt on the tongue after drinking water fools the brain into thinking a lot of salt has arrived in the body. It is then that the brain begins to relax the bronchioles. Instead of placing salt directly on the tongue, I recommend my clients put a pinch of the salt in every water bottle they drink. For the asthmatic client, I recommend two pinches.
- F. Batmangheligji, M.D. Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Second edition. Global Health Systems, Inc. 1997