Exercise induced asthma is also known as exercise induced bronchoconstriction
Exercise induced asthma is the narrowing of the airways, or bronchoconstriction, which is induced by exercise. During exercise, as people begin to breathe faster, they breathe more through their mouth than their nose. Air taken in through the mouth is colder and dryer than air inhaled through the nose, and this cold, dry air is the primary trigger for exercise induced asthma. Our Austin allergists diagnose and treat many children and adults with this condition.
What are the symptoms and triggers of exercise induced asthma?
- Approximately 90% of people who have asthma experience symptoms of exercise-induced asthma.
- Approximately 9% of non-asthmatic people have exercise-induced asthma.
- Studies show that exercise-induced asthma impacts up to 30% of athletes.
Exercise induced asthma symptoms usually occur after exercising for a few minutes, and they typically get worse five to 10 minutes after a person stops exercising. Symptoms may persist anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes after exercising for 30 minutes or longer, especially if the condition isn’t treated. People with exercise induced asthma may experience one or more of these symptoms:
- Wheezing and/or shortness of breath
- Tightness or pain in the chest
- Sore throat
In addition to exercise, there are other triggers for exercise induced asthma, including:
- High pollen counts
- High levels of pollution
- Irritants like smoke, strong fumes, chlorine in swimming pools and chemicals used in ice skating rinks
- Cold weather or dry air
- A recent episode of asthma or other respiratory infection
Diagnosing and treating exercise induced asthma
Our Austin allergists begin the diagnostic process by taking a thorough medical history. They ask patients to exercise on a treadmill or other equipment so they can measure their breathing before, during and after activity.
We treat exercise induced asthma with two types of medication: short-acting bronchodilators and long-term asthma medications.
Short-acting bronchodilators are medications that people take about 15 to 30 minutes before exercise to relax and open the airways.
Long-term control asthma medications help manage underlying symptoms that occur with a chronic asthma condition.
Managing exercise induced asthma symptoms
There are steps people can take to help manage their exercise induced asthma symptoms.
- DO warm up before exercise for 10 to 15 minutes.
- DO wear a face mask or scarf that covers the nose and mouth in cold weather.
- DON’T exercise strenuously when the air quality is bad, the pollen count is high or during a respiratory infection.
- DO use medications before exercising.
- DON’T quit exercising – it’s good for the lungs and overall health.
Exercise induced asthma is a condition that is manageable and treatable. Our Austin allergists are here to help patients get healthy and stay healthy. Contact us for an appointment.