Skip to main content

Health Encyclopedia

Search the Health Encyclopedia

Exercise-induced asthma

Description

Sometimes exercise triggers asthma symptoms. This is called exercise-induced asthma (EIA).

The symptoms of EIA are coughing, wheezing, a feeling of tightness in your chest, or shortness of breath. Most times, these symptoms start soon after you stop exercising. Some people may have symptoms after they start exercising.

Alternative Names

Wheezing - exercise-induced; Reactive airway disease - exercise

Be Careful Where and When you Exercise

Having asthma symptoms when you exercise does not mean you cannot or should not exercise. But be aware of your EIA triggers.

Cold or dry air may trigger your asthma symptoms. If you do exercise in cold or dry air:

  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Wear a scarf or mask over your mouth.

DO NOT exercise when the air is polluted. DO NOT exercise near fields or lawns that have just been mowed.

Warm up before you exercise, and cool down afterward:

  • To warm up, walk or do your exercise activity slowly before you speed up.
  • The longer you warm up, the better.
  • To cool down, walk or do your exercise activity slowly for several minutes.

Some kinds of exercise may be less likely to trigger asthma symptoms than others.

  • Swimming is a good sport for people with EIA. The warm, moist air helps keep asthma symptoms away.
  • Football, baseball, and other sports with periods when you do not move fast are less likely to trigger your asthma symptoms.

Activities that keep you moving fast all the time are more likely to trigger asthma symptoms, such as running, basketball, or soccer.

Use Your Asthma Medicine Before you Exercise

Take your short-acting, or quick-relief, inhaled medicines before you exercise.

  • Take them 10 to 15 minutes before exercise.
  • They can help for up to 4 hours.

Long-acting, inhaled medicines may also help.

  • Use them at least 30 minutes before exercise.
  • They can help for up to 12 hours. Children can take this medicine before school, and it will help for the whole day.
  • Be aware that using this kind of medicine every day before exercise will make it less effective over time.

Follow your doctor's advice on which medicines to use and when.

References

Lugogo N, Que LG, Gilstrap DL, Kraft M. Asthma. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 42.

Weiler JM, Anderson SD, Randolph C, et al. Pathogenesis, prevalence, diagnosis, and management of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: a practice parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010;105(6 Suppl):S1-S47. PMID: 21167465 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21167465.

Review Date:2/2/2016
Reviewed By:Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

adam.com

The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.

Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.

We Appreciate Your Feedback!
1. Did you find this information useful?
         Yes
         No
2. Would you recommend this website to family and friends?
         Yes
         No