Why am I having difficulty breathing?

A swimmer’s nightmare…not being able to breathe. Sometimes it is an uncontrollable cough, midway through training; other times it is an inability to control a breath rate. Is it asthma? exercise induced? Is it Vocal Cord Dysfunction? Is it Hyperventilating? Bronchitis? Sinusitis? Is it contagious?

We are looking for answers. We do know that we are not alone. Talking with coaches, swimmers and parents, persistent coughing during or after practice is more common, than not. As dedicated athletes, we often just put up with it, whether it be from sickness, or environmental.

It would be simple to point out one single cause, but this isn’t the case. From experience, air quality issues can be identified, but not, as yet, quantified. If you can smell something in the air…be prepared.

So many swimmers have been diagnosed with asthma, without most doctors looking into environmental conditions. Athletes will typically have greater lung capacities further challenging the medical profession.

Full blood analysis exposes the dermal, (through the skin,) absorption of what it is we smell in the air. History shows that the athletes with a higher metabolism are the first to react to questionable air quality. We can chronicle the duration until an attack occurs, as well. It happens to correspond to the point in time when athletes are ‘warmed-up, and at a point with peak body temperature and subsequent sweat production…

What are the causes when the air doesn’t smell? More times than not, it is stress, or panic induced. Think how well you breathe when you are nervous, upset, or crying…

In any event, consulting with the medical profession is the most prudent response.


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