Exercise-Induced Asthma

Asthma is a condition in which the airways in the lungs (bronchioles) tend to constrict more than normal due to muscle spasms. This constriction results in difficulty in breathing (shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing). For some people the symptoms are caused or triggered by physical activity; this is known as exercise-induced asthma.

SYMPTOMS

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Wheezing.

  • Coughing.

  • Chest tightness.

  • Decrease in optimal performance.

  • Fatigue.

POSSIBLE TRIGGERS:

Exercise-induced asthma may occur more often when one or more of the following are present:

  • Animal dander from the skin, hair, or feathers of animals.

  • Dust mites contained in house dust.

  • Cockroaches.

  • Pollen from trees or grass.

  • Mold.

  • Cigarette or tobacco smoke. Smoking cannot be allowed in homes of people with asthma. People with asthma should not smoke and should not be around smokers.

  • Air pollutants such as dust, household cleaners, hair sprays, aerosol sprays, paint fumes, strong chemicals, or strong odors.

  • Cold air or weather changes. Cold air may cause inflammation. Winds increase molds and pollens in the air. There is not one best climate for people with asthma.

  • Strong emotions such as crying or laughing hard.

  • Stress.

  • Certain medicines such as aspirin or beta-blockers.

  • Sulfites in such foods and drinks as dried fruits and wine.

  • Infections or inflammatory conditions such as the flu, a cold, or an inflammation of the nasal membranes (rhinitis).

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). GERD is a condition where stomach acid backs up into your throat (esophagus).

  • Exercise or strenous activity. Proper pre-exercise medicines allow most people to participate in sports.

PREVENTION

  • Know the triggers that may increase your occurrence for exercise-induced asthma and avoid them.

  • During winter you may need to exercise indoors or wear a mask if you do exercise outdoors.

  • Breathing through the nose instead of the mouth, especially in the winter.

  • Warm-up for an appropriate length of time before a vigorous workout.

  • Take controller and reliever medicines to control your asthma as directed.

  • Follow-up with your caregiver as directed.

TREATMENT

Asthma controller and reliever medicines work well for most people suffering from exercise-induced asthma. Medicines are able to both prevent asthma attack, as well as treat attacks already happening. The most common type of medicine for asthma is called a bronchodilator. Bronchodilators act by expanding the constricted airways. The most common type of bronchodilator is albuterol and should be taken 15 to 30 minutes before physical activity and as soon as symptoms begin to appear. Additional medicines, such as cromolyn and nedocromil, may be prescribed by your caregiver. It is important for all people with asthma to use their medicines as directed by their caregiver.