Cyclist's cough

Cyclist's cough

After strenuous cycling, particularly in chilly weather, I sometimes develop a wheezy cough that lasts for a week or two. I have no other symptoms of illness, and even the cough seems to abate when I am cycling. I’ve visited my GP who said my health was good. I blew into a device to check my lung capacity and was told there were no abnormalities. Should I be worried about the cough?

Peter Smith

Without knowing your age it’s difficult to say, because there’s quite a number of complaints that can bring on a cough in older people.

One of the most likely explanations for a wheezy cough is asthma. This usually starts in childhood or early adult life. Although asthma can develop later in life, other causes of a wheezy cough become more likely with increasing age.

In asthma, there may also be symptoms of breathlessness or having a tight chest when the cough and wheezing are present. Normal spirometry (breathing tests to assess lung function and capacity) does not necessarily preclude asthma.

If asthma is suspected, you may be offered a trial of an inhaler to see if this helps. Your GP may also ask you to measure and record your peak flow rate (blowing hard into a tube called a peak flow meter) several times daily to look for a pattern suggestive of asthma.

Other causes of a wheezy cough can include a chest infection or hay fever (even in non-asthmatics), and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, usually in older people who have smoked).

Asthma is often diagnosed without further investigation but, if the diagnosis is unclear, it may be necessary to do tests such as a chest x-ray to rule out other causes. Your GP will be able to help decide whether these are necessary.

Matt Brooks

 

This was first published in the December 2014 / January 2015 edition of CTC's Cycle magazine.

Health     Q&A     Travel advice
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Sponsored Advert
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Join Cycling UK to help us change lives and communities through cycling
Membership gives you peace of mind insurance, discounts in cycle shops, rides & routes