18 & 19 April 2014
We hope that your training is progressing well and that you find this section informative. Your information that you provided by completing the online medical questionnaire, is very important to the medical team in the planning of a safe race. The aim of today’s feature is to discuss the implications of running when you have asthma or other respiratory tract disease, or if you have hormonal (endocrine) diseases such as diabetes mellitus (sugar sickness) and thyroid gland disease.
Asthma and respiratory tract disease
Asthma is one of the more common respiratory medical conditions that can affect a runner. Regular exercise, including running has substantial benefits for an asthmatic. However, while running, asthmatics may also develop acute bronchospasm (narrowing or closing of the airways, known as an asthma attack). If this occurs, it can be a very serious medical emergency if not treated.
The preliminary results of our medical questionnaire show that a number of you have indicated that you suffer from exercise- and non-exercise induced asthma or bronchospasm. There are also some of you who indicated that you experience ‘wheezing’ and ‘coughing’ during exercise, and these are symptoms of asthma.
During running, there is an increased airflow through the nose, mouth and upper airways into the lungs. This increased flow, together with factors such as cold air, dry air or pollutants and dust in the air, could potentially trigger an asthma attack.
We would like to provide you with some information about several important safety concerns for runners who are running with asthma and other respiratory tract disorders, such as emphysema and other lung diseases. Specifically, we would like to give you some guidelines on how to make sure that you can run safely with your asthma or your lung disease.
Guidelines for runners with known asthma or other lung disease
We suggest the following guidelines to reduce the risk of developing an acute asthma attack during running:
Diabetes mellitus (sugar sickness)
Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common endocrine diseases in the general population, including runners. A number of you have indicated in the medical questionnaire, that you suffer from diabetes. Well done on exercising with diabetes as this has been shown to improve the control of diabetes and reduce long-term complications.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body has a higher than normal blood sugar level. If the blood sugar is chronically elevated and not optimally controlled, it can lead to damage to other organs in the body including the eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and even the heart. Regular exercise, together with weight loss and healthy eating, are very important in the treatment of diabetes. Treatment may also include the use of tablets and or insulin injections.
Exercise can also affect the glucose control in the body, because the body uses glucose as fuel for the muscles. Therefore, exercise can affect the regulation of your blood sugar. If you suffer from diabetes, there are a number of safety concerns that are important. For example, there is increased risk of developing either low or high glucose during exercise, and in rare circumstances, this may even lead to a coma. We would like to provide you with some guidelines on diabetes and running.
Guidelines: Running with diabetes
Thyroid gland disease and other endocrine diseases
Diseases of the thyroid gland are also fairly common in the general population, particularly in females. In the medical questionnaire a number of you indicated that you suffer from either an overactive or an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland secretes hormones, which are mainly responsible for the regulation of your metabolic rate. Thyroid hormones act on most cells in your body, where they affect your basal metabolic rate, protein synthesis, bone growth, nerve maturation and the body’s reaction to stress hormones, such as adrenaline. These hormones are also involved in heat generation. Generally, abnormalities in thyroid gland function can be either an over- or under-production of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism respectively). Both of these abnormalities can cause a variety of symptoms and can affect your exercise performance and general well-being.
Common symptoms of thyroid disease Some of the most common symptoms of thyroid disease are:
Overactive thyroid: anxiety, irritability, insomnia, weight loss, palpitations and fast resting heart rate, shaky hands, sweating, weakness of muscles of upper arms & legs, fine brittle hair
Underactive thyroid: fatigue, sluggishness, depression, ‘brain fog’, weight gain (unexplained), dry hair and skin, feeling cold, constipation, heavy menstruation and infertility and miscarriages.
Guidelines: Running with thyroid disease If you suffer from thyroid disease, we suggest the following general guidelines during running:
We wish you a healthy and happy last few weeks of training before race day.
The Medical Team