Medical Q&As

Coughing - while playing football?

I am a keen sportsman but I'm also a smoker. When playing football my game is based on constant running but I cough the whole way through the game. I read recently that some footballers deal with this problem by using a vapour rub on the chest but I wanted to ask your advice before possibly adopting that approach myself.

The single most important step that you could take to deal with your difficulty is to stop smoking. Cigarette smoke is a very fine form of dust and it contains many chemicals that can irritate the delicate lining of the bronchi or breathing tubes. This irritation causes the membrane or lining of the bronchi to secrete mucous and can also cause narrowing of the bronchi. These two factors, mucous secretion and narrowing of the bronchi, can induce fits of coughing. Hence my strong recommendation that you give up smoking. The possibility also exists that you may have a mild asthmatic tendency. Some people can experience exercise induced asthma and yet not experience coughing and wheezing at any other time. This latter possibility is an issue that you could discuss with your GP. The solution might involve the use of an inhaler before you train or play a competitive game.