Last week, I went to an allergist to (belatedly) discuss asthmatic reactions I had this past spring. Part of my appointment involved taking a spirometry test in order to determine a baseline for my lung function. Despite not exhibiting signs of asthma or any respiratory infection, my overall baseline was slightly below normal. The doctor interpreted this to mean that I have a predilection for breathing problems. Which makes sense– my childhood illnesses were mostly respiratory infections, and now living in a city with poor air quality doesn’t help matters.
Obviously, my having below-normal lung functions hasn’t stopped me from being active. I had told the doctor that I don’t notice problems with breathing when I’m doing aerobic exercise, such as aikido or bicycling. However, I’ve always had problems getting enough air to play long phrases on clarinet, and my music teachers in the past had attributed that to my small frame. I now wonder if it’s not really my size, but my actual lung capabilities that inhibit me from blowing freely into my instrument.
Will this change the way I practice? Perhaps. The doctor suggested I try to use an inhaler prior to doing any moderate physical activity. We’ll see what happens when I do. I’m not going to spend my time worrying about it, though.