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Old 11-09-2010, 09:29 PM   #1
Scott Hallas
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coughing and phlegm build up after workout

I am new, only been crossfitting for about 6 weeks and am definitely out of shape. After some hard (or hard for me) met cons that really push me to the edge, for the next few hours I have a bit of a cough and have some phlegm build up. The phlegm is similiar to how one feels at the tail end of a chest cold, very loose. after a few hours I am fine, no more cough or phlegm. Is this normal or should I be concerned. Also let me say I have never had asthma, and i dont taste copper or have any blood in my saliva or anything. any thoughts?
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:37 PM   #2
Brent Sallee
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

Regular coughing after exercise is almost always asthma. You don't have to taste blood or anything, but coughing after exercise is one of the key symptoms of exercise-related asthma. If you get a prescription for an albuterol inhaler, the coughing will likely go away. You may have to do a pre and post exercise spirometry test both with and without an inhaler to confirm it.

Last edited by Brent Sallee : 11-09-2010 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:56 AM   #3
Shane Skowron
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

It's most likely exercise-induced interstitial pulmonary edema.
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Old 11-10-2010, 12:51 PM   #4
Scott Hallas
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

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Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
It's most likely exercise-induced interstitial pulmonary edema.

thanks but i dont really know what that is. is that a serious problem that i should make sure i get looked at before i can work out again?
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:32 PM   #5
Shane Skowron
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

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Originally Posted by Scott Hallas View Post
thanks but i dont really know what that is. is that a serious problem that i should make sure i get looked at before i can work out again?
Nope, basically hard cardio work especially in cold weather or at high altitude forces fluid (plasma) into your lungs. Then you cough to get rid of it. Serious pulmonary edema can cause too much fluid to build up in your lungs and you won't be able to breathe, but that's unlikely to happen
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:49 PM   #6
Brent Sallee
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

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Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
It's most likely exercise-induced interstitial pulmonary edema.
No, it's really not. Asthma is the most exercise-induced respiratory problem with these exact symptoms. Pulmonary edema occurs, but often produces a pink, frothy mucus along with other symptoms (especially iron taste and coughing up blood). The number one cause for coughing post-exercise is asthma. I've had both and studied both and they are very different beasts.
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Old 11-12-2010, 08:38 AM   #7
Shane Skowron
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

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Originally Posted by Brent Sallee View Post
No, it's really not. Asthma is the most exercise-induced respiratory problem with these exact symptoms. Pulmonary edema occurs, but often produces a pink, frothy mucus along with other symptoms (especially iron taste and coughing up blood). The number one cause for coughing post-exercise is asthma. I've had both and studied both and they are very different beasts.
Ok. Do you find it strange that he's never had asthma before?
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Old 11-12-2010, 11:53 AM   #8
Angelo M Fosco
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

I have been doing crossfit for 3 years and about 8 months ago this started happening with me as well. It started as a cold but after the cold went away this kept on happening. My phlemg is white, not green, so I know it's not an infection. I've never had asthma, so I don't believe it is that. Although it doesn't happen after, it happens during and after a workout. What I can tell you is while it affects how fast I got on met-cons at times (have to blow my nose), it doesn't hurt me in any other way.
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Old 11-12-2010, 01:50 PM   #9
Scott Hallas
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

thanks guys for all the replies. Just to add some further info, I am a former smoker, a recreational only and occasionally on the weekends smoker but a former smoker nonetheless.
Also, it doesnt feel like I am short on breath, its almost like I am getting too much air. Since I have been dieting and working out even prior to crossfit I have noticed that my breath has gotten much deeper, like when I need to take a deep breath for whatever reason I really feel a nice healthy amount of air getting into my lungs, whereas when i was 285 lbs that would be a struggle to say the least.
After these workouts where I have these symptoms, its as if when I am breathing deep its as if too much air is coming in and thats when i get the cough and phlegm action.
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Old 11-14-2010, 11:44 PM   #10
Brent Sallee
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Re: coughing and phlegm build up after workout

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Originally Posted by Shane Skowron View Post
Ok. Do you find it strange that he's never had asthma before?
With CrossFit, most people ramp up the intensity as they go on. Some people don't really hit near-max intensities until they are very, very comfortable with doing WODs. I'm an intense person and it took me about 6 weeks to hit that intensity. Asthma can also be aggravated by weather changes, allergens present, movements completed, and other varying environmental factors. I found out I had asthma going from a cold room to the hot, allergen ridden outside on a run after overhead squat. He didn't tell us what WOD he was doing when these symptoms came out. Running after heavy lifting tends to be especially aggravating to the lungs.
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