Unusual short of breath

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Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:39 am

I not sure what to think of this, but any thoughts appreciated. I am not new to cycling. I would typically cycle several times a week with small - mod hills included up to 40km in a ride. I struggle with severe short of breath on hills. I rode with some friends who only ride once a week and have heavy hybrids with fat tyres. The were able to talk well where as I struggled to even get a word in because I was breathing so hard. It just brought home to me that something is not right - I train harder, I ride a road bike but I never seem to get anywhere.Everyone else who I've ridden with doesn't breath heavily like me. Every hill even small ones I'm breathing at my max, I can't slow it down it seems to be on automatic pilot. I know it is not asthma, because I have no trouble getting air in and out and I usually have a puffer before I go. I now just dread any hill. I might see my GP about it, but I don't want the comment of don't be so stupid just get on your bike. I just don't seem to improve in my cycling no matter how hard I try and I'm getting frustrated and discouraged. Something is not right
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by BNA » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:17 am

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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby G-Ride » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:17 am

First things first - go see your GP. Discuss your issues and get the appropriate tests. If your GP fobs you off go to another one. If you are using a puffer (which I presume was prescribed to you) you have an asthmatic condition and that is not simply about air in and out - you need to establish a baseline for your condition, a treatment approach and from there you can build (and enjoy!) your cycling.

If your a smoker and/or overweight you can address these things with your GP. In the meantime don't give up the riding - find a route you can ride comfortably for the time being and enjoy it.

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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby liamb » Fri Apr 20, 2012 10:56 am

dont do the rides that cause the stress on the system until you know what you are dealing with. Go to a GP and get some real medical advice. Hopefully you are able to find an answer from the GP or a specialist. Lungs can be tricky and not to be treated lightly.

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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby Downhill » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:30 pm

Assuming for a minute that there are no physiological or medical conditions that might affect performance:

Your heart rate and breathing rate are normally a measure of how hard you are working (i.e. your power output).

You mentioned that you ride a road bike whereas your friends have hybrids with fat tyres. That implies that they probably have different gearing as well. You might benefit from a different gear set, one that gives you a slightly lower range.

It's worth checking your cadence too. Ideally your cadence on the flat should be around 90 cycles per minute. If your cadence is lower than this, you might be trying to drive too high a gear.

I suggest checking the tyre pressure too. It's well worth investing in a good floor pump with a tyre pressure gauge if you don't already have one. You might find that your tyres are under inflated, especially if you're running high pressure tyres. This will certainly sap the energy and raise the heart / breathing rate.

The bike set up is worth revisiting. Having the wrong seat height, seat set back, or stem length will certainly make things a lot harder. Sometimes errors in the bike set up don't become evident until your distances, speeds or climbs start to increase. A good "bike fit" makes cycling a lot easier and far more enjoyable.

It could also be a training / fitness thing. It's possible to be fit for distance on the flats without being fit for climbing. Some riders are comfortable with a high power output over shorter distances, some are better at a lower power output over longer distances. Some are sprinters, some are climbers, some are endurance riders. Very few are all three.

To put this into perspective, an "average" rider might be able to put out 200 Watts of power constantly for hours on end, but their maximum power output might only be 350 Watts. 200 Watts is fine at low speeds on flat ground. 350 Watts might be good for short climbs in low gear, even on relatively steep hills. On longer hills however, this hypothetical rider might struggle to maintain 350 Watts continuously for several kilometres. If the hills were a little steeper, or if there was a strong head wind, or if the rider was carrying additional weight, then the hill would require more power than the rider can sustain.

In any case I wouldn't worry too much about it. Check with your GP for peace of mind. Meanwhile, slow down a little, enjoy the rides, the company, and your achievements so far! Everything else will come with time.
Today's effort = Tomorrows reward.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby Meditator » Fri Apr 20, 2012 11:45 pm

Let us know what the doctor says.

I'm curious why you would use a puffer if you don't have asthma.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby BoardRider » Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:11 am

ICU812 wrote:I not sure what to think of this, but any thoughts appreciated. I am not new to cycling. I would typically cycle several times a week with small - mod hills included up to 40km in a ride. I struggle with severe short of breath on hills. I rode with some friends who only ride once a week and have heavy hybrids with fat tyres. The were able to talk well where as I struggled to even get a word in because I was breathing so hard. It just brought home to me that something is not right - I train harder, I ride a road bike but I never seem to get anywhere.Everyone else who I've ridden with doesn't breath heavily like me. Every hill even small ones I'm breathing at my max, I can't slow it down it seems to be on automatic pilot. I know it is not asthma, because I have no trouble getting air in and out and I usually have a puffer before I go. I now just dread any hill. I might see my GP about it, but I don't want the comment of don't be so stupid just get on your bike. I just don't seem to improve in my cycling no matter how hard I try and I'm getting frustrated and discouraged. Something is not right


I had similar issues riding regularly 200 km s a week .Training /racing /riding up hills and surfing for me I was short of breath and fit, it fluctuated and was very intermittent .Hopefully your problem is something simple. +1 see a doctor ,monitor your heart rate. My problem was a abnormal heart rhythm so I wasn't efficiently pumping enough blood around even though my heart rate was normal.
Now further down the track I am 5 days from cardiac ablation to fix the problem. My cardiologist sent me out for testing yesterday prior to op and they found three holes in my heart and a aneurysm. So I hope yours is a simple problem. No wonder I struggle sometimes not others ,it didn't make sense either.

If the puffer is ventolin maybe your rhythm and heart is being affected by the puffer an common side effect of this particular drug.
Best of luck working it out hopefully your just riding with the brakes rubbing.
Last edited by BoardRider on Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby toolonglegs » Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:31 am

Doctor...then probably a specialist for a capacity check, x-rays etc what ever they do.
It is not normal period... surprised you have waited this long.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:02 am

Thanks for your ideas. I will make an appointment to see my GP this week.
I have noticed that even though I may drop my gears and increase my cadence, it makes no difference to my breathing rate
My HR will be around 145 - 155 when I max out on my breathing rate
Even going up a flight of stairs or two puts me out of breath, surely I'm fitter than that!!
I rode with a lovely retired couple and they would have been 20 yrs my senior and they were new to cycling, they didn't run out of breath like me.
I have had some heart arrythmias in the past, one really fast rhythm (180 on resting) and another really slow, 2 beats and a long pause and my usual beat seems to skip
intermittently.
I do have asthma but it is very well controlled. :D
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Unusual short of breath

Postby ozzymac » Sat Apr 21, 2012 9:26 am

Hi,
You sound exactly like me.
I have just been having tests done for exactly the same thing.
My max hr is usually around 165-171 but by then I am stuffed.

Just finished having chest X-ray , wore a heart halter for 24 hours and had a stress test the other day. So far the stress test didn't show up anything, but I was curious as they only took my heart rate up to 146 bpm as they said that is my recommended range. Even though I told them my max was as I stated above.

Other tests I get the results from the dr on Tuesday.

As suggested , you are better of getting it checked out.

Cheers


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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby BoardRider » Sat Apr 21, 2012 12:43 pm

ozzymac wrote:Hi,
You sound exactly like me.
I have just been having tests done for exactly the same thing.
My max hr is usually around 165-171 but by then I am stuffed.

Just finished having chest X-ray , wore a heart halter for 24 hours and had a stress test the other day. So far the stress test didn't show up anything, but I was curious as they only took my heart rate up to 146 bpm as they said that is my recommended range. Even though I told them my max was as I stated above.

Other tests I get the results from the dr on Tuesday.



Best of luck with your results
Personally that stress test showed little for me too,they couldn't wind it up any further and my Cardiologist could see I was just having fun and called it quits
It seems that those irregular beats really screw with breathing even though your heart rate maybe within normal limits and you cant cant feel your heart pounding.
I had to wait to things got worse before I could get something done.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby wombatK » Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:00 pm

ICU812 wrote:Even going up a flight of stairs or two puts me out of breath, surely I'm fitter than that!!

That's definitely worth mentioning to the GP. If he doesn't refer you to a cardiologist, ask
for it. Would expect you'll at least need an echo-cardiogram (ultrasound examination of
blood flow conditions and contractions of the heart) as part of the diagnosis.

If you haven't recently had one, a blood test with LDL and HDL (you have to ask for both)
and fasting blood glucose level would likely be needed before seeing cardiologist.

Cheers
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Sun Apr 22, 2012 9:30 pm

I decided to do an experiment today and put on my Polar HR monitor to see what was going on, when.
It was worse than I thought. I went up a hill that is not too big and I my breathing became heavy at 135bpm and max out at 140bpm
It was totally pathetic. :cry: Would most people be breathless at that HR?? At my max I was starting to fade out, not dizzy but if I went any further I would fade like a faint
I can't be that seriously unfit!! I ride several days a week up to 40km or so. When I stop, my HR rapidly declines in a minute or two.
Oh well at least I've got something to mention to my GP
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby wombatK » Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:42 pm

ICU812 wrote:I decided to do an experiment today and put on my Polar HR monitor to see what was going on, when.
It was worse than I thought. .... if I went any further I would fade like a faint

If you haven't scared yourself enough yet, it might be best to leave any further experimentation
to the doctors' rooms - where there's someone trained in CPR, has debrillilators etc.,. If you
faint while experimenting on the bike, it could end up quite badly.

Moreover, it's pretty hard to not have an emotional investment in any experiment you try on yourself,
and that could seriously interfere with the test - i.e. it could possibly cause what you are seeing.

I'm not saying you haven't or have got something serious - but rather you've got something the
doctors need to check out. Self-diagnosis or google diagnosis just doesn't cut it.
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Unusual short of breath

Postby toolonglegs » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:51 am

Hmmm.... Stop riding and get to the docs.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby PawPaw » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:50 am

how old and fat are you?
how long were you sedentary for before taking up cycling?
when were you last fit, if ever?
what's your diet like and alcohol consumption?
smoking history?
what's with the asthma meds? when were you diagnosed with asthma?
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:10 am

PawPaw wrote:how old and fat are you?
how long were you sedentary for before taking up cycling?
when were you last fit, if ever?
what's your diet like and alcohol consumption?
smoking history?
what's with the asthma meds? when were you diagnosed with asthma?


To answer your question
I'm 44 yrs old, weigh 56kg
Took up cycling around 7 yrs ago
Diet is healthy, limited fats, extra lean meats/fish and limited sugars, rarely have take away. Cook healthy meals for a family of five. Plenty of veges/fruit
Don't smoke. Don't drink.
Unable to get fitter right now due to struggling breathlessness with hills. Have been fitter in past. Done B2B, Gong ride, Spring cycle etc
Asthma since teens, currently under very good control, don't cough or wheeze, feel clear, good peak flows.
There you go, pretty boringly normal. :)
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby PawPaw » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:15 pm

Hmmm....ok, so you are a girl? and I presume not significantly overweight?
The thing about hills is for some it is hard to get better at them, unless you are riding regularly, and are healthy in every respect.

There's a myriad of neural, endocrine, cardiac, and respiratory pathologies that can signficantly adversely impact work rate.
Thyroid issues, neural control of the heart, congenital heart valve issues, even iron deficiency, are all things that need to be ruled out by your GP.

I have a male mate your age who looks like an elite triathlete, but he struggles on hills more than I think is warranted.
I've suggested he have his heart function investigated, but I think he is a little afraid of what might be found. Yesterday, he actually had an uncomfortable tachycardia after drinking coffee and starting up a steepish hill.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:52 pm

PawPaw wrote:Hmmm....ok, so you are a girl? and I presume not significantly overweight?
The thing about hills is for some it is hard to get better at them, unless you are riding regularly, and are healthy in every respect.

There's a myriad of neural, endocrine, cardiac, and respiratory pathologies that can signficantly adversely impact work rate.
Thyroid issues, neural control of the heart, congenital heart valve issues, even iron deficiency, are all things that need to be ruled out by your GP.
.


Yep I'm a lady, a petite lady, with 3 children (2 of them teenagers), who everyone says that I should be a whippet up hills, and have potential of being a racer.
I ride regularly around 3 times a week up to around 40km each time and I absolutely love the bike, I love the feeling of being free. I get so much pleasure from riding.
It clears my mind.
The breathlessness is really driving me crazy, no matter how often I go up hills it happens every time and I just don't get any better
Have made an appointment for the GP on Tuesday pm and I won't go on the bike again till I see him. Cheers Sam
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:01 pm

Sorry but I'd like to ask another question that is bothering me.

Is it normal to feel your heart beating during exercise or at mid to high intensities?

One thing I have noticed is that I feel my heart beat jumping/pounding through my chest when I exercise particularly when I stop for a rest

So obvious that it is easy to count without feeling for a pulse

No need for a heart monitor, I can count to pounding. Is it something I should mention to my GP or am I being a dork.

Thanks
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby G-Ride » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:30 pm

Yes can happen. How 'bout this - mention everything to your GP and let them decide if your a dork!

Seriously - everything!

Best wishes with it.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby PawPaw » Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:33 pm

ICU812 wrote:Sorry but I'd like to ask another question that is bothering me.

Is it normal to feel your heart beating during exercise or at mid to high intensities?

One thing I have noticed is that I feel my heart beat jumping/pounding through my chest when I exercise particularly when I stop for a rest

So obvious that it is easy to count without feeling for a pulse

No need for a heart monitor, I can count to pounding. Is it something I should mention to my GP or am I being a dork.

Thanks


What rate have you counted?
It is normal to feel your heart beating within your chest with heavy exercise.
A stress ecg and 24 hour holter monitor are usually recommended by doctors to pick up abnormalities.
If you get to use a holter monitor, make sure you get out on your bike and put in a big hill. (a holter monitor is a portable ecg).
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:33 pm

Ok saw GP today.
He thinks it may be more respiratory rather than cardiac. Although he only checked the chest, didn't listen to the heart at all.
Got forms for chest xray, spirometry and echo cardiography. I am a known severe asthmatic with lung xray changes (bulla???) but under excellent control now.
Not sure what to think. May get a second opinion??
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby PawPaw » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:42 pm

Stay with your GP. THe tests he's ordered are appropriate.

If you have significant bullae, chances are you have significantly reduced capacity to oxygenate your blood.
One technique you might use on climbs is to breathe in through the nose, and out through pursed lips. This keeps the airways open longer, rather than prematurely collapsing, and trapping stale air in the lungs; which can reduce the oxygen you get into the blood, and the carbon dioxide you breathe out.
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:53 pm

PawPaw wrote:Stay with your GP. THe tests he's ordered are appropriate.

If you have significant bullae, chances are you have significantly reduced capacity to oxygenate your blood.
One technique you might use on climbs is to breathe in through the nose, and out through pursed lips. This keeps the airways open longer, rather than prematurely collapsing, and trapping stale air in the lungs; which can reduce the oxygen you get into the blood, and the carbon dioxide you breathe out.


Thank you I feel a bit better now. I knew I had a bulla in the past and no-one said much to me. I suppose it won't go away :(
But this is first time someone has said how to deal with it during exercise. Thanks
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Re: Unusual short of breath

Postby ICU812 » Mon May 07, 2012 5:15 pm

Hi Guys,
Well I've finally worked out what the problem is today with shortness of breath.
Echo fine, chest xray fine, spirometry not as good, post ventolin well over 10% difference
My asthma was sub optimally controlled, continuing to have big swings in PEF readings and bike riding causing moderate to severe dips after exercise (scary actually)
Basically I have been getting poor air entry and poor air out. Starting to make sense now. I had no idea how bad things were even on high dose inhalers
I'm on the maximum amount of Oxis - a long acting bronchodilator
And Alvesco (inhaled corticosteroid) has been increased now to 320mcg morning and night.
I will have to religiously track my PEF/FEV 1 for at least the next month to see if treatment is working
Hope it works, because cycling is so enjoyable and I get so much out of it :D
This has been a good lesson for me, I need to take my asthma more seriously, especially since mine in on the more severe end of the spectrum
Thanks Sam
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