What Masters Swimmers Need to Know


Asthmatic Signs:

  • 1. Wheezes
  • 2. Coughs
  • 3. Tight feeling in the chest
  • 4. Shortness of breath
  • 5. Fatigue
  • 6. Numerous colds
  • 7. Sighs
  • 8. Stomach cramps
  • 9. Headaches
  • 10.Consistent allergy problems

    If you have any of these symptoms, check with your doctor. Asthma is easily controlled if you know how. I recommend reading the excellent book by Olympic gold medalist Nancy Hogshead, Asthma and Exercise (Henry Holt, 1990), and her article in Swim magazine September 1993. Don't let Asthma stop you from enjoying life or swimming!

    SINGULAIR(TM) a miracle asthma medication offering once-daily control of chronic asthma is now available. Singulair(TM) (montelukast sodium) is the first and only leukotriene receptor antagonist to offer effective relief for both children (6 to 14 years of age) and adults suffering from this potentially fatal disease.

    Personal observations

    My asthma has gotten worse the last several years. I went from Azmacort (an inhaled corticosteroid) to Flovent (an inhaled glucocorticoid). Flovent is a much more powerful medicine with more side affects. After a bronchitus attack I was on Biaxin antibiotic and Prednisone for 10 days. My peak flow was 450 at the start of antibiotics and 650 at end. I still had asthma symptoms: wheezing, coughing, tight feeling in the chest and shortness of breath. It was worse when I swam in cold (below 79 F) water. I would cough at every set. Then my asthma specialist Dr. Elliot Brunner prescribed Singulair(TM). Within 3 days most of the asthma symptoms abated. Within a week my peak flow was 850, and several times I have pegged the meter at 900 Liters/minute. My peak flow meter is an ASSESS by Healthscan Products. My average peak flow is over 850! I have reduced the Flovent from 2 puffs twice a day to one puff twice a day. And all indications are I may be able to cut back further! I now find it easy to swim lengths underwater. I do three or four 25 yard lengths underwater to begin my warm up. Lengths underwater puts stress on the lungs, so that I can work my way through mild asthma symptons instead of an asthma attack during the workout. I can't wait to try the 200 breast again. I haven't had a good 200 breast since I got full asthma 5 years ago. Even my 50 breast should improve.

    Clinical trials for SINGULAIR(TM)

    Clinical Studies have demonstrated that Singulair(TM) improves asthma control in a broad spectrum of patients. The once-daily formulation and excellent tolerability profile are important advances in helping to improve patient compliance. In clinical trials, Singulair(TM) decreased asthma attacks by 37 per cent and increased "asthma-free" days by 42 per cent compared to placebo. "In clinical trials, Singulair(TM) was effective in controlling the symptoms of chronic asthma, either alone or in combination with other medications," Dr. Spier added. "Many patients on SINGULAIR(TM) were able to reduce or eliminate their use of medications, including inhaled corticosteroids."

    One study showed that patients given a once-daily tablet of montelukast sodium were able to reduce the dose of inhaled corticosteroids needed to control symptoms by 47 per cent on average versus 30 per cent in the placebo group. It also showed that 40 per cent of patients in the montelukast sodium group were able to give up inhaled corticosteroids completely during the study compared to only 29 per cent of patients taking placebo.

    How it works

    Asthma's defensive line leukotriene receptor antagonists work by blocking the action of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes are active chemicals involved in the asthmatic reaction. They are produced in large quantities by asthmatics in response to "triggers" such as allergens or cold air. Leukotrienes provoke asthma symptoms by "turning on" certain cells in the airway, resulting in:

  • Bronchoconstriction - muscles surrounding the airways squeeze shut.
  • Increased mucus secretion - mucus blocks the airways and restricts airflow.
  • Inflammation - activation of the cells lining the airway resulting in edema (swelling) and increased mucus secretion. Leukotriene receptor antagonists have been chemically engineered to prevent the leukotrienes from binding to the airway cells and triggering these reactions.

    Oral dosing a major benefit.

    Leukotriene receptor antagonists are taken as tablets, offering a major improvement over inhalation devices, such as nebulizers and spacer devices ("puffers"). These are cumbersome and can be difficult for patients to use correctly, especially young children and the elderly. They lead to inaccurate dosing and patient non-compliance. Singulair(TM) is taken once in the evening, much easier than medicines that require multiple daily doses.

    Talk to your doctor, ask him if Singulair(TM) could help you control your asthma. Studies have shown that Singulair(TM) also helps evercise induced asthma. Most HMO's have adopted it because it truly is a MIRACLE drug. You may start swimming personal bests again. And the rest of your life will be much more in control.

    Although Singulair(TM) can help reduce dependance on steroids, because of adrenal suppression by steroid medication, steroids must be carefully reduced under the guidance of a physician.

    by Wayne McCauley
    parts of this article was taken direct from the Canada NewsWire

  • SWIM Magazine sells Asthma and Exercise

    Send e-mail to Wayne McCauley