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How Long Can Exercise Induced Asthma Symptoms Last

Can I Prevent Exercise

Exercise induced asthma

With planning and preparation, you may be able to avoid an asthma episode. Before physical activity, you should:

  • Allow yourself time to warm up: Before starting any physical activity or exercise, warm up for six to 10 minutes. Warmup routines vary depending on your age, health and sport or activity. Talk to your provider about the right one for you.
  • Check pollen and air quality: Before going outside to exercise, check the air quality index. If pollution and pollen levels are high, you may want to stay indoors.
  • Cover your mouth and nose: Use a mask, scarf or gaiter to protect your airways from cold, dry air.
  • Manage asthma symptoms: If you have asthma, work with your provider to get symptoms under control before you start an exercise program. Follow your providers instructions when using inhalers and taking asthma medications.
  • Tell coaches and teachers: If your child has asthma, make sure teachers and coaches are aware. Adults should know what symptoms to watch for, what to do if symptoms appear and how to help with medications.
  • Watch for symptoms: Monitor yourself for symptoms of sports-induced asthma. Have a plan in place if you notice signs of an EIB episode. Remember that symptoms can appear minutes after you finish exercising.

Out Of Shape Or Exercise

The shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness or coughing that some athletes experience during physical activity often turns out to be exercise-induced asthma.

An Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center study of Ohio State athletes found that about 40 percent of them had exercise-induced asthma. Most of them didnt know they had it or werent receiving treatment for it.

Studies of Olympic athletes found that between 20 and 50 percent of them had exercise-induced asthma. Many of these athletes also didnt know they had the condition.

The symptoms are easily mistaken for simply being out of shape. Some athletes may even think the symptoms are normal physical responses to exertion.

But exercise-induced asthma, or exercised-induced bronchospasm, is a condition for which treatment exists. Getting properly tested and diagnosed can improve your athletic performance and quality of life.

Whats the difference between asthma and exercise-induced asthma?

The symptoms of both conditions are the same: chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue or episodes of coughing.

In asthma sufferers, these symptoms have many triggers, such as allergens, weather or temperature changes, and irritants like smoke, fumes and pollution.

When symptoms are triggered by exercise, its called exercise-induced asthma.

How do I find out if I have exercise-induced asthma?

If you have asthma, this test usually will reveal it.

What treatments exist?

How Do I Know If I Have Exercise

You may experience cough, wheeze, a feeling of tightness or discomfort in the chest, breathlessness, and/or excessive mucus production. These symptoms often appear or get worse 5-10 minutes after exercise and so you may not see a drop in your performance whilst exercising.

About 50% of people will have what is called a refractory period following exercise. What this means is that once they have recovered from one episode of EIB then they may not experience another episode of EIB for 2-3 hours even if they exercise again.

It is important to remember that any episode of shortness of breath or chest pain or discomfort, especially associated with exercise, must always be investigated by a doctor as soon as possible as there are other causes of these symptoms some of which may be very serious.

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What Types Of Medicines Treat Or Prevent Eib

There are three types of medicines to prevent or treat the symptoms of EIB. Your health care provider can help you find the best treatment program for you based on your asthma history and the type of activity.

  • Short-acting beta agonist / bronchodilator : This medication can prevent symptoms when taken 10 to 15 minutes before exercise. It will help prevent symptoms for up to four hours. This same medication can also treat and reverse the symptoms of EIB should they occur.
  • Long-acting bronchodilator: This needs to be taken 30 to 60 minutes before activity and only once within a 12-hour period. Salmeterol can help prevent EIB symptoms for 10 to 12 hours. This medication is for preventing symptoms. It does not offer any quick relief, so it not for treating symptoms once they begin.
  • Mast cell stabilizers: Cromolyn sodium or nedocromil sodium need to be taken 15 to 20 minutes before exercise. These medications may also help to prevent the late phase reaction of EIB that some people experience. These medications are only for preventing EIB because they do not relieve symptoms once they begin. Some individuals use one of these medicines in combination with a short-acting bronchodilator.

If you have frequent symptoms with usual activity or exercise, talk to your doctor. An increase in your long-term control medications may help. Long-term control medicines, such as inhaled steroids, can help EIB.

What Is Exercised Induced Bronchoconstriction

Exercise for asthma: Benefits, best types, and safety tips

Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction , is a temporary narrowing of the lower airways, occurring after vigorous exercise. It may occur in people with asthma or in people without asthma.

In people with asthma who experience EIB, exercise is an asthma trigger. This means that for some people during vigorous exercise the small airways in the lungs become red, swollen, and may become blocked with mucus. This narrows the airways and makes it more difficult to breathe.

Not everybody that has asthma has EIB and some people with EIB may not have asthma

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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Eib

If you or your child has symptoms of exercise or sports-induced asthma, call your provider. Several conditions have symptoms that are similar to EIB. Its essential to get evaluated.

If you or your child has severe shortness of breath or trouble breathing, seek immediate medical attention. Call 911 or go directly to the emergency room.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Many people with exercise-induced asthma play sports, enjoy a range of activities and live an active lifestyle. People of all fitness levels, including Olympic athletes and marathon runners, manage asthma and excel at their sports. If you or your child has EIB, be sure to include a warmup routine before exercise. Keep an eye on pollen counts and air quality before you head outside. Talk to your provider about medications that can help you breathe easier. With lifestyle changes and prior planning, you can stay active and exercise safely.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/17/2021.


Tips For Kids With Exercise

For the most part, kids with exercise-induced asthma can do anything their peers can do. But be sure to follow the suggestions given by your child’s doctor.

Here are some tips for kids and teens:

  • If symptoms start, don’t exercise until they stop.
  • Warm up before exercise to prevent chest tightening.
  • Take quick-relief medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
  • Breathe through the nose during exercise.
  • Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine, as prescribed, if symptoms start.
  • Cool down after exercise to help slow the change of air temperature in the lungs.

It’s also best not to exercise outside during very cold weather. If your child plays outside when it’s cold, wearing a ski mask or a scarf over the mouth and nose should help.

If air pollution or pollen are triggers, your child may want to exercise indoors when air quality is poor or pollen counts are high. And kids shouldn’t exercise when they have a cold or other upper respiratory infection.

Kids should always have access to their quick-relief medicine. Keep extras on hand and be sure to check all supplies so your child isn’t carrying an empty inhaler.

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How Long Can Exercise Induced Asthma Last

exerciseinduced bronchoconstrictionsoonexerciselast

Exerciseinduced asthma, also known as exerciseinduced bronchoconstriction , is caused by prolonged exercise. As many as 90 percent of people with asthma experience EIB. This type of asthma usually hits five to 10 minutes after exercise ends the symptoms often go away on their own after 30 to 45 minutes of rest.

Similarly, is exercise induced asthma bad? When exercise causes bronchoconstriction, it can lead to wheezing, coughing, and chest pain, which may be mild to severe. Up to 90 percent of people who have asthma experience EIB during exercise. According to the AAFA, EIB might be one of the most common causes of asthma symptoms in teenagers and young adults.

Also Know, what does exercise induced asthma feel like?

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include wheezing, tightness or pain in the chest, coughing, and in some cases, lasting shortness of breath. Someone with EIA may: get winded or tired easily during or after exercise.

Can you die from EIB?

The symptoms are often mild to moder- ate in severity and may cause impairment of athletic performance, but are not severe enough to cause significant respiratory distress. However, severe episodes of EIB can occur, and respiratory fail- ure and even death have occurred in rare cases .

Why Does Exercise Trigger Asthma

Exercise and Asthma

During normal breathing, the air we take in is first warmed and moistened by the nasal passages. Because people tend to breathe through their mouths when they exercise, they are inhaling colder and drier air.

In exercise-induced asthma, the muscle bands around the airways are sensitive to these changes in temperature and humidity and react by contracting, which narrows the airway. This results in symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, which include:

  • Unusual fatigue while exercising
  • Shortness of breath when exercising

The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma generally begin within 5 to 20 minutes after the start of exercise, or 5 to 10 minutes after brief exercise has stopped. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms with exercise, inform your doctor.

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Why Exercise Can Be A Trigger

Breathing through the nose warms up the air we breathe in. But when we exercise, particularly exercise that is more strenuous like running, we usually breathe through the mouth instead of the nose. This means were breathing in air thats colder and drier than normal.

If you have asthma, breathing in this cold, dry air causes your airways to tighten and get narrower. This can trigger your asthma symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness.

You may come across other triggers when you exercise too, like pollution or pollen if you exercise outside, or dust if you exercise indoors. Chlorine in swimming pools can also trigger symptoms for some people.

Youre more likely to get asthma symptoms when you exercise if:

  • you dont take your preventer inhaler every day as prescribed
  • your airways are already tight and inflamed because of allergies or other triggers like cigarette smoke

Exercise-induced asthma

Rarely, someone not diagnosed with asthma might get asthma-like symptoms from exercising.

This is often called exercise-induced asthma, but a better term is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction because it is not caused by having asthma. However, its important to be assessed for asthma if you have symptoms of EIB.

Bronchoconstriction is when the airways get tighter and narrower as a result of strenuous exercise, particularly if someone is also breathing in cold air.

Find out more about exercise-induced asthma/bronchoconstriction.

More Tricks For Preventing The Wheeze

Try these recommendations to reduce your risk of EIB while exercising:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a scarf or mask during exercise so the air entering your lungs is warmer and more humid.
  • Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before the main workout.
  • Try to breathe through your nose. Your nose is great at converting air to the best temp and moisture for your lungs.
  • In a study of 64 asthmatic children, positive pressure treatment reduced EIB and lung inflammation.

You dont want to mess around when it comes to breathing. Follow your doctors recommended treatment for EIB, but you may find some of these alternative therapies are helpful too.

  • Caffeine before exercise may help prevent airway constriction.

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Side Effects Of Exercise

Episodes of EIB can cause temporary inflammation and damage to lungs, but its reversible with proper treatment. The biggest complication associated with exercise-induced breathing difficulty is GIVING UP ON EXERCISE!

Some people with EIB feel anxiety, fear, and embarrassment about exercising. Rightfully so! Whats not scary about feeling like you cant breathe?

The truth is avoiding exercise is counterproductive. Its totally possible to have an active life while managing EIB. In fact, exercise improves quality of life.

How Can I Help Prevent Eib Episodes

Exercise for asthma: Benefits, best types, and safety tips
  • Avoid known triggers , such as dust or pollen.
  • Choose exercise that requires only short bursts of intense breathing, if possible. Examples include volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, wrestling, or sprinting. Exercise that requires intense breathing for long periods is more likely to trigger EIB.
  • Warm up before you exercise. Do moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, for 10 minutes before you do strenuous exercise.
  • Wear a mask over your mouth when you exercise in cold weather. This will help warm the air you breathe.

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How Is Eia Treated

If you have exercise-induced asthma, your doctor might want you to take asthma medicine before being really active. This is often the same quick-relief medicine used for flare-ups. You breathe the medicine directly into your lungs before exercising and it works immediately to open up the airways. Doctors sometimes call this pretreatment.

If pretreatment isn’t enough, your doctor may recommend that you also take daily long-term control medicine. This works over time to help keep the airways open. You need to take it every day, even when you feel well.

Many people find that if they take medicine as prescribed by their doctors, they can work out with few or no problems.

Questions To Ask Your Doctor

  • I have trouble breathing when I exercise? Do I have EIB?
  • How does EIB differ from regular asthma?
  • Is it safe for me to exercise? What kinds of exercise can I do?
  • Are there medicines I can take to prevent and treat my symptoms?
  • How long do I have to take the medicines and what are the side effects?
  • Are there other lifestyle changes I can make to relieve my symptoms?
  • Will I always have EIB or can it go away?

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How To Diagnose Exercise

If you think you may have exercise-induced asthma, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms and when they happen and may use exercise testing to detect evidence of bronchoconstriction. These measure changes in your lung function after exercise, as follows:

  • Lung tests: using spirometry to measure your lung function before and five, 10, 15 and 30 minutes after exercise.
  • Exercise challenge tests: monitoring your peak flow before and after your normal exercise you might be asked to do this yourself over a few weeks at home.
  • Alternative challenge tests: You may be asked to exercise intensively under supervision at the same time as challenging your lungs by breathing dry air through a facemask, by inhaling methacholine or by hyperventilating. This is called bronchoprovocation testing. Spirometry will be used to measure your lung function before and after.

If these tests confirm bronchoconstriction, your doctor will need to decide whether you have:

  • poorly controlled asthma that is triggered by exercise
  • well-controlled asthma with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction
  • exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

There is an overlap and misdiagnosis in this area. How you respond to treatment will give clues to the diagnosis.

Learn more about how asthma is diagnosed.

Treatment For Nonallergic Rhinitis

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The early stages of any treatment for nonallergic rhinitis should include staying away from the triggers that cause it. Continued exercise, without exposure to allergens or irritants, may actually reduce the times you get a runny nose. This is due to the bodys natural reaction to adrenaline.

Your doctor may prescribe medicine if you continue to experience rhinitis even though you avoid triggers and make lifestyle changes.

Medications usually come from three groups.

  • Anticholinergics like ipratropium bromide are a medication you rub on the skin. They cause very few side effects.
  • Nasal steroid sprays like Flonase or Nasacort are common nasal medications that may help treat nasal congestion and rhinorrhea .
  • Intranasal antihistamines, such as Azelastine, may effectively treat allergy-related rhinitis as well as nonallergic rhinitis.

If the turbinates become enlarged, a surgical procedure called a turbinate reduction can help reduce symptoms.

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What About Taking Medications If Im Involved In Competitive Sport

For elite, professional, and semi-professional athletes this is a very significant concern as the issue of drugs in sport and any medications or supplements you take, may have serious implications.

Many sporting bodies require elite, professional, and semi-professional athletes to provide evidence of EIB, such as Bronchial Challenge Test results before they are permitted to use EIB medicines during competition. So for any athlete competing at this level before you take any medication or supplement, even if prescribed by your doctor, you must always check with:

The Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority 13 000 ASADA

The World Anti-Doping Agency

How Can I Deal With Exercise

When it comes to EIA, staying one step ahead of your symptoms is a good strategy. Ask your doctor what you should do before exercising or playing sports.

Here are some of the things doctors suggest for people who have EIA:

  • Warm up carefully before any exercise to prevent chest tightening.
  • If you do pretreatment, take your medicine as close to the start of exercise as possible.
  • Breathe through your nose during exercise.
  • Take brief rests during exercise and use quick-relief medicine as prescribed if symptoms start.
  • Cool down after exercise.
  • Avoid exercising outside during really cold weather. But if you have to, wear a scarf around your nose and mouth or a ski mask.
  • If pollen or pollution trigger your asthma, exercise indoors on days when the air quality is bad or the pollen count is high.
  • Don’t exercise when you have a cold or the flu.
  • Don’t exercise if you’re having asthma symptoms.

Taking medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes is the most important tip of all. Skipping long-term control medicine, if it’s prescribed for you, can make symptoms worse. Forgetting to take medicine before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even ER visits.

Finally, always keep your inhaler with you when exercising. You may feel shy about your asthma, but don’t hide it from coaches or teammates they can help you. Coaches especially should know about your asthma so they will understand if you need to take a break and use your medicine.

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