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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a fairly casual rider (I don't race anymore but used to about 9 years ago) and I don't ride the bike much during the winter so at this point in the season, I'm pretty out of shape. I'm 35, 5'8" and 145 lbs.

Anyway, lately I've noticed that after rides I've had a nasty cough. I'm fine during the ride - not fit at this point in the season but not having breathing or coughing difficulty.

For about an hour after a ride (even a short 20k ride), if I try to take a deep breath I end up with a deep hacking cough.

Today was a good example. Temp outside was about 8 degrees celsius (I'm in Canada).

Any guesses what this is? I take meds for GERD but I'm not sure if this would be related. Does it sound like exercise induced asthma? Should I see my doctor about this or is it probably just lack of fitness?
 

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sounds like exercise induced asthma - my doc told me to not push as hard in my ride or deal with it as long as its just a cough; he did suggest a stress test to verify it wasn't an issue that needed treatment though as well.
 

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GERD clue

carveitup said:
For about an hour after a ride (even a short 20k ride), if I try to take a deep breath I end up with a deep hacking cough.

Any guesses what this is? I take meds for GERD but I'm not sure if this would be related. Does it sound like exercise induced asthma? Should I see my doctor about this or is it probably just lack of fitness?
You might double check the side effects on your GERD medicine. IIRC there are some that cause a cough. That said, cold weather bike coughs are not uncommon, and it may be a combination of needing to get in better shape and your lungs getting dried out in the cold air.
 

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Loves to Suffer
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I quit smoking and started MTB racing last year and road racing this year. I used to get a horrible cough after racing, but after getting into much better shape the cough is much better. I still get some burning in the lungs and some coughing, especailly in cold weather. I think for me it was a combination of fitness and lungs clearing.
 

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Try an espresso before and/or afterwards. It's a bronchodilator and might make things a bit easier. Asthmatics often have coffee if they've forgotten their inhaler and sometimes it's successful in preventing an attack.

I used to always get that hack after TTs when I lived at altitude. Moved to sea level and never experienced it again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I had a bit of a flu a while back and still have some lasting effects so when I went riding this morning, I tried taking a sudafed beforehand. I went a little easier as well and ended up feeling a lot better afterwards (no coughing). So I think it may just be a combo of poor early season fitness, some lasting effects of the flu and maybe pushing too hard in the cold air. Don't tell WADA on me!

Thanks for all your input!
 

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Le Misérable
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I still get this every January, as I travel a lot in Nov/Dec and don't ride much. No asthma, no meds...just the ol "getting-in-shape" deep lung rattle:).

It's happened all my life, and I've been doing some form of competitive endurance sport since I was 15...and that was, ahem, a long time ago. The worst was after early season track intervals (running, that is) when I was racing 5 and 10k's. It's less severe with early-season hard efforts in cycling, but still regular as the sunrise.

Still, can't hurt to see a sports doc...you might learn something interesting!
 

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it does sound like exercise induced asthma. i had the same thing happen after a race 2 months ago. it was just above freezing and at 3-4k feet elevation. i couldn't stop coughing after the race and then every time i rode i felt fine but as soon as i got off the bike my lungs would feel itchy and i couldn't stop coughing. it eventually went away. might be worth a trip to the doctor. if you feel like you have the flu get it checked because another time i had symptoms like that it turned out to be pneumonia.
 

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If no other symptoms, such as fever, chills, aches, it does sound a little like Exercise Induced Asthma. I used to get this when I raced hard in chilly weather.
I used to use a Propranolol Inhaler(Prescription) ; couple of puffs before and after heavy workout/breathing. Worked for me.
John
 

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I have EIA even in mildly cool weather

Hi,

Even in So Cal I get this, and since I'm prone to bronchitis I asked my doctor a couple of years ago whether I should keep riding in the winter or stop. He said I could continue cycling and I have an inhaler I use from time to time, rarely.

I live in So Cal and it's come on early this year. I was wondering maybe all the fires this summer had something to do with it? I don't live near the fires, and certainly wouldn't ride if it was smoky out, but there has to be a lot of extra "junk" in the air besides the usual exhaust fumes?

Anybody have any practical advice? should I work on my breathing? More nasal? less mouth?

It feel like there's stubborn "gunk" in my airway and if I could get that out the tickle and cough would be gone.

Riding itself is fine, I can do anything from slow commute to intervals and I'm fine. Afterward and at night though, I'll get that cough.

The coffee idea was great since I love coffee and my club always makes a coffee stop. Does a bandanna or mask help with the cold air?

Thanks,

Chris
 

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This is an issue with reactive airways which is exacerbated esp. in the cold and esp. after an infection. The effects of the latter tend to linger for a long time. Besides using inhalers (albuterol) acutely, the key is to warm up the air you breathe as best you can. Not so sure how to do this on a bike, much less during intervals. When I ran in the cold, I often would bite my tshirt collar and breathe thru that, which helped some. Nasal breathing also helps, but again, a bit of a challenge when you are gassed. I don't think your GERD meds are causing it (that side effect is very rare and would be more likely due to certain blood pressure meds)... though if you GERD is not under control, the reflux is thought to contribute to asthma (more the chronic kind, rather than this excerise -induced kind)
 

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The Fall is tough on me for 2 reasons:

1) Pollen triggers sinus issues (slight seasonal alergies) that drip mucus into the lungs. It's a cruel fact of (un)intelligent design. Maybe a good prescription antihistamine would help.

2) Slight Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA) brought on by air that is both cool AND dry. It's the combo of both cool and dry that causes extremely predictable results. Keeping the lungs well-moistened is key to managing the flair-ups. Hot showers, hot tea, etc seem to help. Occasional Albuterol inhalations help pre-race. Try getting good warm-ups also.

I've also had issues (many years ago) with mold spores in sub-tropical Florida (graduate school).
 

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I have had this ever since I started biking a little over a year ago. I haven't been to a doctor yet but my teacher for my cycling class is a PHD and he said he would look into it for me and talk to me about it next week. I am, in fact, dealing with it as I am typing this. I thought it was funny that I was kind of curious today and I just happened to come across this in the forums. I will talk to him again next week and I will let you know if he tells me anything interesting.
 

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If you're just coughing, it doesn't sound like an asthma attack. I had asthma as a child and still have athletic-enduced asthma. Asthma rarely made me cough that much, it just made me wheeze, and it felt like I could either forget or not have the energy to keep breathing…combined with being light-headed, this was a bit terrifying, though my asthma was never that bad.

I'm also not sure about the advice to warm up air. When I had asthma attacks as a kid, I remember very well taking a rescue inhaler and going with my mom to sit in the garage (we lived in minneapolis). The doctor recommended cold air to help.

If I'm at all sick or having a bad allergy day, I still cough at night if I get too hot. Removing covers or holding ice in my mouth fixes it.

So, I have been told the exact opposite of that advice by a doctor and have seen cold to help in my life. I also much prefer exercising in the cold, because it feels like it takes less time for my lungs to recover.

Try a bronchodilator if you'd like or if you're scared talk to a doctor. I did the same thing when I started riding for a while, but I've had so many allergies in my life, that I kind of just don't care about coughing anymore…probably not good if something ever goes wrong. Whatever, I'll just make fun of my body for crying wolf.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Interesting timing to see my thread revived. Once the air got warmer, the coughing went away, and now that it's cold again (it was 4C this morning when we did our ride), the coughing is back. I don't think it is exercise induced asthma since I am fine while riding - it's only afterwards that I get the cough.

I'm going in for a physical in early december so maybe I'll ask the doc then. I suppose I could try an inhaler to see what happens...

LittleRoadBiker - let me know if you learn anything.
 

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You shouldn't be experiencing cold weather coughs at 4-8C. Perhaps once it gets below -12C then it would not be too uncommon.

Also, it is normal to get post-exercise cough if you are going hard. On easy workouts it should not happen.

If you suspect it is the cold or dry conditions try covering your mouth with a thin cloth or you could buy a mouth piece which has metal mesh in it (breath exchanger?). The metal heats up when you exhale and transfers that heat back to the air you inhale. The breather doesnt really restrict airflow like a ski mask does.
 

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b31den said:
You shouldn't be experiencing cold weather coughs at 4-8C. Perhaps once it gets below -12C then it would not be too uncommon.

...

I've had cold-air coughs when exercising starting consistently around 6-8 C for over 25 years. Several doctors have said it's common and not to worry about it unless the coughs become uncontrollable, have associated gunk coming up with them or continue for a long time after exercise. The more demanding the workout (from a cardio point of view only), the worse the cough.

I don't ride my bike when it's -12C anymore:).
 
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