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Dealing With Exercise Induced Asthma

Exercise Induced Asthma is very common. While it can't be cured it can be managed with a few measures. It should not be an excuse to not exercise.

Asthma is a condition in which there is narrowing of airways due to swelling inside the airways and also there is increase production of mucus in the airways. This makes breathing difficult and triggers cough, whistling sound from chest (wheeze) and shortness of breath. It can also interfere with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.

One thing which is very important is to understand that asthma can't be cured, but its a disease but the symptoms can be controlled.

It is also important to know about the triggers which can precipitate asthma attack like allergies, occupation, emotion, stress, cold air, season change, dust mite, pollution, pet dander, pollens, viral respiratory infections, air pollutants, smoke, certain mediations (aspirin, Beta blockers, ibuprofen), acid reflux from stomach and also physical activity ie exercise can also trigger asthma.

So what is Exercised-induced asthma (EIA). EIA is a narrowing of the airways in the lungs triggered by strenuous exercise. The preferred term for this condition is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. This term is more accurate because in people with asthma, exercise is likely just one of several trigger as said earlier. Most people with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can continue to exercise and remain active by treating the symptoms with common asthma medications and taking preventive measures.

Signs and symptoms of EIA may begin during or soon after exercise. These symptoms may last for an hour or longer if left untreated. The signs and symptoms may include cough, wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness or pain, fatigue during exercise, poorer than expected athletic performance and avoidance of physical activity by the person (a sign primarily seen in young children). So, whenever someone has these symptoms, then the family or parents should think of EIA and should meet the doctor for treatment. The doctor will take proper history, do certain tests like simple spirometry with bronchodilator, exercise challenge test where patient is exercised and spiromtery is done before and after exercise.

Factors that may increase the risk of the condition or act as triggers include cold or dry air, air pollution, chlorine in swimming pools, chemicals used with ice rink resurfacing equipment, activities with extended periods of deep breathing, such as long-distance running, field hockey, basketball or soccer. Swimming, which is a strong endurance sport, is generally better tolerated by those with asthma because it is usually performed in a warm, moist air environment.

Tips to handle EIA :

  • Take pre-exercise inhaled medications and long term control medications
  • If person has asthma, then be sure to take asthma medications as directed to keep asthma under control.
  • Do around 10 minutes of warm-up that varies in intensity before starting regular exercise.
  • Breathe through the nose to warm and humidify the air before it enters the lungs.
  • Wear a face mask or scarf when exercising, especially in cold, dry weather.
  • If person has allergies, avoid triggers. For example, don't exercise outside when pollen counts are high.
  • Try to avoid areas with high levels of air pollution, such as roads with heavy traffic.
  • Restrict exercise during viral infection
  • Exercise at a level that is appropriate for everyone.
  • Exercise regularly to stay in shape and promote good respiratory health.
  • For school, get an action plan from the doctor which details step-by-step instructions for teachers, nurses and coaches that explain what treatments the child needs, when treatments should be administered and what to do if the child experiences symptoms.
  • It has been suggested that fish oil, vitamin C or vitamin C supplements can help prevent EIA, but there isn't enough evidence to show if they're useful or not.


Lastly, asthma should not be used as an excuse to avoid exercise. With proper diagnosis and treatment of asthma, person should be able to enjoy the benefits of exercise without experiencing asthma symptoms.


Tags assigned to this article:
asthma wellbeing breathing Exercise induced asthma

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