View Full Version : persistent cough due to intense metcons

Jeff Yan
02-15-2009, 05:53 PM
Not sure if this is the appropriate forum, but here goes:

After particularly intense metcons, I sometimes develop a cough, despite not being sick (or at least I'm not ill immediately going into the workout).

I've done a quick search on the CF boards and this is what I found:

Tasting blood / coughing after hard workouts (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=38749)
post workout cough? (http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=41210)

Some of the conclusions that come up include:

low grade pneumonia
exercise induced pulmonary edema
exercise induced asthma

I'm not sure exactly what the distinctions here are. Any explanations?

Other personal observations:

I'm not positive, but it seems that my condition is made worse or more likely to come about/recur whenever the weather outside is cold.
My coughing persists for several days, not just for a few minutes or hours as noted by other sufferers in the above threads.

Some workouts that have prompted coughing fits that last for days:

4 rounds: run 400m, 50 squats
Fight Gone Bad

Can anybody provide some more insight?


George Mounce
02-15-2009, 06:59 PM
When I hadn't played hockey for 6 months or done any real activity I had the same thing. It eventually went away. Has this always happened, or is it something new?

Kevin Perry
02-15-2009, 07:08 PM
Jeff if you check out my log something happened to me too when I did fran, it got bad that I could only due half the workout but I have a history of pulmonary problems. Steven gave a good rundown of what it could be.

Steven Low
02-15-2009, 08:43 PM
Exercise induced interstitial pulmonary edema = fluid buildup in lungs = coughing

Cold air = worse gas exchange = lack of O2/CO2 exchange = hyperventilation

Hyperventilation aggravates the coughing.

If you google interstitial pulmonary edema and "high intensity" you'll see some studies on high intensity exercise causing the edema.

Jeff Yan
02-15-2009, 10:09 PM
What level of competition/intensity was the hockey (like was it a league game or a casual pick up) and how long were your shifts?


The first time I noticed the coughing bouts was after I did the 4 rounds of run 400m, 50 squats WOD while running outside in the winter.

This history of coughing after workouts doesn't go far back, but then again, I've only been doing CF for about 2 years. Not surprisingly though, nothing else I've done in my years of GPP exercising in fitness centers have come close to reaching the intensity that CF demands.

I've never had a hockey practice that was so hard that I ended up with a coughing fit.

When I used to swim on a team (practices are often pretty physically strenuous) I can only think of one instance specifically where I ended up with a cough that lasted for a day or two. That instance followed a Swim-a-Thon fundraiser consisting of 200 laps of a 25 yard pool (a bit less than 3 miles total), an event which takes roughly 1.5-2 hours to complete. During the middle of the Swim-a-Thon, the staff brought up the locker room floor tiles onto the pool deck to scrub them down with detergent.

I looked up "pulmonary edema" and read that inhalation of toxic gases is a cause.

Steven Low
02-16-2009, 07:44 AM
I looked up "pulmonary edema" and read that inhalation of toxic gases is a cause.

Come on dude..... I said to look up...

interstitial pulmonary edema with high intensity

I strongly doubt you're being poisoned by toxic gas during your workouts.

Jeff Yan
02-16-2009, 08:40 AM
Come on dude..... I said to look up...

interstitial pulmonary edema with high intensity

I strongly doubt you're being poisoned by toxic gas during your workouts.

I brought up the toxic gas thing in relation to the coughing I got after my Swim-a-Thon. Swimming 200 laps is bad enough, but inhaling cleaning agents (probably with some ammonia) with every breath more than likely contributed.

That said, I'm pretty sure some of the people I work out with emit toxic gases in other capacities. :D

Mike ODonnell
02-16-2009, 09:16 AM
I'll throw it out there, as I like to stick to the basics and not troubleshoot some allergy to red dye #3 or something like that....question #1, as it's like the first tech support question "is your computer plugged in" that needs to be asked on a tech support call for computer related problems.....but do you eat/drink much dairy products? If you have alot, try taking it out and see what happens....if not....well, could be cold weather related or toxic ass-gas...who knows...then I go to staple #2, take some ACV daily and call me in the morning....wait, don't call me at any point.

Blair Lowe
02-16-2009, 06:37 PM
Hmm, I'm pretty sure competitive swimmers just get used to the pool chemicals but I as a rec swimmer do not and why I've given up swimming in chemical'd pools. It's not like there is an Ozone pool nearby but those salt pools are a little less harsh.

I figure so long as the river/stream looks clear enough, I'll take my chances so long as I know there hasn't been a sewage leak.

On a different note, I have noticed that keeping on the metcons while having a slight cough just extended the time to get rid of the cough. It was also pretty miserable as I remember a failed Cindy and Fran sometime in late 08 as I had a persistent cough.

Garrett Smith
02-16-2009, 09:41 PM
A consistent, persistent cough after hard metcons is not a good thing.

Blair, pool chemicals are not something the body gets "used to", other than in comparing it to someone who works in a landfill getting used to the smell--that doesn't mean there's still not garbage stuff floating around in the air.

Mike Kesthely
04-28-2009, 12:18 PM
This discussion just came up today at our affiliate; I've had it happen to me on numerous occasions in varying degrees. The PWO-cough, in my opinion, is exercise induced pulmonary edema secondary to high intensity metabolic conditioning. The "why(s)", well I'm not exactly sure on. My 2 cents:
The pathophysiology lies somewhere in a transient V/Q mismatch, exacerbated by high intensity anaerobic work.
Short duration, high intensity met cons seem to produce EIPE more often than longer duration.
Forgoing a "cooldown", and lying, mostly likely, completely supine, and doing nothing more than moaning, potentially exacerbates it also.
Buildup of blood lactate and H+ and decreased clearance via ventilation and metabolic buffering cause interstitial shifting of plasma.
Actually inducing hemoptysis is probably a completely different, and much more severe etiology. My cough has always been non-productive.There's way, way more to it than that, but there's no doubt in my mind it's a ventilatory and buffering issue, coupled with intensity. The workout I just did induced some of the worse coughing I've ever had in the past couple of years:

3 rounds, for time:
-10 Chest-to-bar pullups
-10 "Hip Smashers" (think MMA sprawl)
A short, intense workout lasting sub:2 minutes. Coughed like a madman for the next 45 minutes.