Exercise/Cold-Induced Asthma

Copperhed51

Well-Known Member
After taking a few years off from exercise, I forgot that I had this little problem. I have been cycling around 100-150 miles per week throughout the summer, but have backed it off a bit now that winter is arriving. Today I went out for a quick 20-miler and not long into the ride, I started having some discomfort in my throat and the slight taste of blood or something. My lungs felt a bit tight. I was coughing quite a bit during the ride and it felt like i had chest congestion. Now it's a couple hours later and the coughing is subsiding and the congestion feels like it's going away slowly. I get this pretty much any time I exercise in cold weather. The ridiculous thing is it's around 50 degrees here today so it's not even all that cold.

Question is, does this sound like cold-induced asthma and if it is, should I be able to get prescribed an inhaler and not have to get a special issuance medical? I don't want to deal with the paperwork but want to be able to breathe while I bike too. I've lost 70 pounds this year and don't want to gain it all back because I'm afraid to get on my bike in the cold.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
It sounds like either cold-induced or exercise-induced asthma. Intermittent use of an inhaler for this is not DQ.

Rock Chalk :)
 

rubin

New Member
I have activity induced asthma and am an air traffic controller. How long does it take to get a special insuance waiver for asthma from the flight doc?
 

jtrain609

Anarcho-Bidenist
I'm a career asthmatic. Got diagnosed at 14 months with asthma and I was an athlete in high school without too much of a problem.

AS LONG AS I WASN'T OUTSIDE IN THE COLD! I swam for 8 years and did marching band for another 8 and never had any problems. As soon as I tried running track out in the cold, though, I ended up in the emergency room. I only lasted about a week on the track team because of this. So what did I learn? I can exercise all I want, as long as it's not cold out.

That being said, I got deferred on my first medical application (I shouldn't have been deferred), and have since had no problems getting a medical. I'm not on a special issuance, and I'm on daily maintenance drugs for the asthma.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
I have activity induced asthma and am an air traffic controller. How long does it take to get a special insuance waiver for asthma from the flight doc?
That is an internal FAA thing - I do not know but would expect a decision within 4 weeks or so.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
That being said, I got deferred on my first medical application (I shouldn't have been deferred), and have since had no problems getting a medical. I'm not on a special issuance, and I'm on daily maintenance drugs for the asthma.
You are lucky. Just hope they don't catch it:)
 

rubin

New Member
jtrain--what did you have to do when you got deferred on the first one. my first civilian faa class II exam is coming up soon. should i be able to get a waiver on the spot.??? did you have to do anything special for yours???
 

Avalon781ML

Well-Known Member
It sounds like either cold-induced or exercise-induced asthma. Intermittent use of an inhaler for this is not DQ.

Rock Chalk :)
So if I understand this correctly exercise or cold induced asthma does not affect one's ability to obtain a medical? What would qualify as intermittent use?
Just trying to understand this a bit better.
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
If you take medication only occasionally and the asthma is cold or exercise induced, the AME should be able to provide that data to the FAA in Box 60 on the 8500-8 and issue the medical. Getting deferred for this tells me the AME probably does not do many exams and is a very busy Dr in his/her practice - thus it is easier to defer than find out if you can issue or their volume is low enough they do not deal with these issues on a regular basis. This is why you should go to an AME who does more then 200 exams a year (the average AME does about 25 a year). Afterall, would you rather fly with a 10,000 hour pilot or a 60 hour pilot?
 

Pietrantonio

Well-Known Member
jtrain, not sure how you managed to hide under the radar ;)

Here's my personal and current experience(s) with this issue. I have had exercise induced asthma since I was about 2 years-old. I started flying back in 2000, and I was able to get my medicals without any problems. No SI or anything back then. All of a sudden about 2 years ago, I got an awesome letter from the FAA telling me to either surrender my medical, or provide results that my asthma is under control, etc... Well, surrendering my medical was not an option. So, I made phone calls asking what they specifically wanted. They wanted me to submit a yearly PFT. So far, I have had no problems. The test doesn't take long. You get your results and send them in. I rarely use my inhaler. It's on a PRN basis, and my results have shown mild pulmonary obstruction. I do not know when the FAA will be completely convinced to the point where I can have my SI status removed, but until then, I will continue to do as they ask. So, there is hope for those who have asthma. I do not know if there are other tests that the FAA requires, but this is just my situation. Hope this gives some insight to anyone facing similar problems. :)
 

rubin

New Member
I completed my class ii med exam yesterday. I have activity induced asthma that only restricts me from extreme activities such as running. I passed with no problems at all. Doc said that if i was going to be a pilot it might be a problem, however as atc it was fine. Also because i dont use daily medications for it. Its not so much the condition that is disqualifying, unless youved had to be hospitalized for it, as the medications that disqualify you. As long as it is considered seasonal "alergies" or mild/moderate, and you dont use meds daily there is hope for atc with asthma.
 

rubin

New Member
Also if you have actually been diagnosed with activity induced asthma, you have done a methocoline test. Take your results in to the flight doc to show him. Also you should do a pulmanary functi0ns check and take those results in to him. The functions check will simply show your breathing capacity sitting still without any exercise both normally and with an the use of an inhaler. If there is no or little improvement with the inhaler, then it is easy for you to prove that you dont need daily meds.
 

JDMcFly

New Member
I have sort of a related question that I've been wondering about.

Back when I was like 12/13 (read: 10 years ago) I had some tough time breathing which was initiated I believe by a sudden allergy to cats (this was very soon after we moved to a busy street, and our cats went to live with our grandparents- soon after I became allergic- I've read this is not uncommon). Regardless, my lung capacity isn't great, and I can't run too long because of that. I have *no idea* if I was diagnosed with asthma or not. I never had an 'attack', or used a rescue inhaler. I did have albuteral which I used rarely around that age.

I didn't report Asthma on my medical, I'm guessing I still shouldn't?

My question less confused is: What does an asthma diagnosis usually consist of?
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
I have sort of a related question that I've been wondering about.

Back when I was like 12/13 (read: 10 years ago) I had some tough time breathing which was initiated I believe by a sudden allergy to cats (this was very soon after we moved to a busy street, and our cats went to live with our grandparents- soon after I became allergic- I've read this is not uncommon). Regardless, my lung capacity isn't great, and I can't run too long because of that. I have *no idea* if I was diagnosed with asthma or not. I never had an 'attack', or used a rescue inhaler. I did have albuteral which I used rarely around that age.

I didn't report Asthma on my medical, I'm guessing I still shouldn't?

My question less confused is: What does an asthma diagnosis usually consist of?
Correct to the question.


  • To establish a diagnosis of asthma, the clinician should determine that:
    • Episodic symptoms of airflow obstruction are present.
    • Airflow obstruction is at least partially reversible.
    • Alternative diagnoses are excluded.
  • Recommended mechanisms to establish the diagnosis are:
    • Detailed medical history
    • Physical exam focusing on the upper respiratory tract, chest, and skin
    • Spirometry to demonstrate reversibility
  • Additional studies may be considered to:
    • Evaluate alternative diagnoses
    • Identify precipitating factors
    • Assess severity
    • Investigate potential complications
 

rubin

New Member
i would have to say that if a pulmanary physician has not actually diagnosed you with asthma then there is no reason to tell a flight doc your self diagnoses of asthma. that might just screw you over.
 

JDMcFly

New Member
i would have to say that if a pulmanary physician has not actually diagnosed you with asthma then there is no reason to tell a flight doc your self diagnoses of asthma. that might just screw you over.
Obviously. I wouldn't disclose anything on a medical that I self-diagnosed :eek:.

I was just wondering because it would have been my doctor when I was twelve that could have made the diagnosis. I don't want to have my cert. revoked because I didn't realize that I was diagnosed with asthma when I was twelve when I actually was. I never went to a specialist, and about the only thing I did was blow into those breathy tube things once.
 

Pietrantonio

Well-Known Member
Hey Doc, I tried searching the FAA website first , but came up empty. Just did my PFT today, and the result was still the same as previous tests. My physician however, gave me a rx for asmanex. Just wondering if this is acceptable by FAA standards. Does anyone have any first hand experiences with asmanex? Thanks!
 

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
Asmanex is acceptable as long as the PFT is normal. You will need a letter from your doc or copies of the medical records to submit to the FAA.
 
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