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What Does An Exercise Induced Asthma Attack Feel Like

Meds Used Before Exercise

What is Exercise-Induced Asthma?

Athletic induced asthma treatments for non-chronic cases will focus on minimizing the symptoms and preventing EIA. These medications include:

Ipratropium is a typical medication used to make the airways a little bit wider. Thats how it relieves the obstruction in the lungs.

Short-acting meds help to calm the airway lining and allow it to carry the air with ease. However, a patient could develop tolerance.

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What Are Symptoms Of Exercise

If you have EIB, youll likely experience one or a combination of four symptoms: shortness of breath, a dry, non-productive cough, chest tightness, or wheezing .

Some of these symptomssay, trouble catching your breathcan be easy to confuse with the effects of just pushing yourself too hard, or being a little out of shape. So how can you tell if its EIB?

Typically, symptoms of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction are pretty precisely-timed. They tend to begin during the first six to eight minutes of exercise, and peak five to 10 minutes post-workout, says Wang. Thats because, initially, exercise expands the airways. But as you continue to move with EIB, or when you stop, your airways can constrict more than usual.

If you have EIB, symptoms usually subside within 30 to 60 minutes, he adds. Thats different than a short-term exertion, like if youre pushing yourself really hard in a sprint. In that case, youll regain your breath much faster than this, Wang notes.

If youve done your run and shortly following your run, your chest is tight, maybe youre coughing a little bit, that should go away, notes Taliercio.

If those symptoms persist after that time frame, or get worseespecially if you have a history or asthma and have used a quick-acting inhalerthey may be signs of an asthma attack. In that case, you should seek immediate medical attention, as it can be life-threatening if not treated, notes Wang.

You Struggle To Run Long Distances

Do you enjoy going for 10-mile runs? That will change if you develop exercise-induced asthma. The deep breathing that running requires, plus the sheer distance, can decrease your endurance if your airways are constricted. Youre not going to be able to run as long or as far, Dr. Ogden says. Your symptoms will kick in before the runnings over and youll find yourself struggling. In that situation, meds or an inhaler can help you power through runs from a 5K to a marathon Here are some training tips for beginners who want to run a marathon. Regardless of your symptom or your environment, seeing an asthma and allergy specialist for an evaluation will set you on the road to relief.

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What Else Can I Do To Prevent Symptoms Or Attacks

Depending on your triggers, you can keep an eye on the levels of allergens in the air and levels of air pollution and ozone , which vary each day.

Choosing to exercise indoors on these high-allergen or high-pollution days could prevent asthma symptoms.

Cold air can provoke asthma symptoms, too. So if you need to be outside when its below freezing, wearing a mask or scarf can help cut down on the temperatures effects on your respiratory system.

Warming up well before competing in sports can also reduce the risk of asthma symptoms developing during competition, in addition to reducing your risk of injury.

Most important: If youre diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma and prescribed an inhaler, that inhaler should be with you at all times so that you have immediate access.

If you have an asthma attack and panic because you dont have your inhaler handy, the stress of the situation can make your breathing even worse.

How Do I Manage Exercise

What Does Exercise Induced Asthma Feel Like?

There is no cure for asthma triggered by exercising or sports. Treatment focuses on preventing and relieving symptoms.

To avoid an episode, you should warm up for at least six minutes before starting exercise. Ask your provider to recommend the best warmup routine for your age and fitness level.

Your provider may recommend one medication or a combination of several medications. Some drugs open your airways while youre experiencing exercise-induced asthma. Other medications prevent an episode. These medications include:

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asthma

The telltale sign of asthma is a wheezing sound stemming from your chest with every breath you take. You may also experience noticeable shortness of breath, being unable to get sufficient oxygen, coughing, and chest tightness.

One of the most common symptoms during an asthma attack is the inability to speak due to interruptions in your breathing. A multitude of patients discovers that various triggers can lead to an asthma attack, such as:

  • Dust

A myriad of risk factors is believed to increase your susceptibility to asthma. They include:

  • Having blood relatives with asthma, such as siblings or parents
  • Exposure to occupational triggers such as chemicals used in hairdressing, manufacturing, and farming
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Having an allergic condition such as atopic dermatitis that triggers itchy, flaky, red skin, or hay fever that causes itchy eyes, a runny nose, and chest congestion
  • Frequent smoking
  • Exposure to exhaust fumes and other types of pollution

How Can I Manage And Treat My Eib

With proper management, you can enjoy exercise and achieve your full potential. Proper management requires that you:

  • Take steps to prevent symptoms
  • Take medicine before exercising
  • Do a proper warm up for 6 to 10 minutes before periods of exercise or vigorous activity
  • Carefully watch your respiratory status before, during and after exercise

Children With EIB Inform teachers and coaches if you have a child with EIB. Kids with EIB should be able to take part in activities they just may need medication before an activity.

Athletes With EIB If you are an athlete, disclose your medicines and adhere to standards set by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Request a list of approved and prohibited medications from the Committee hotline at 1-800-233-0393.

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Is There A Safe Way To Exercise If Youre Prone To Asthma

If youre prone to asthma when you exercise, heres what you can do to exercise safely:

  • Use an inhaler before exercising. If your doctor prescribed a rescue inhaler, always use it before physical activity and wait for the recommended amount of time before exercising.
  • Warm up and cool down. Avoid abruptly starting or stopping activity. Spend 5 to 10 minutes warming up before you begin exercising, and spend 5 minutes gradually cooling down afterward.
  • Cover your mouth with a mask or scarf. This can help humidify and warm the air that you breathe in. It can also reduce your exposure to pollen and pollution.
  • Avoid cold weather sports. Cold weather can dry and constrict your airways. Avoid or limit activities like skiing or ice skating.
  • Avoid sports with continuous activity. If your asthma is poorly managed, sports involving long stretches of exercise can trigger symptoms. Avoid sports like long-distance running and cycling.

Recommended Sports And Activities

Exercise and Asthma

Any activity can cause asthma symptoms. Sports and activities with short bursts of activity, rather than long periods of activity, are usually better for people with asthma. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, some sports may be less likely to trigger symptoms. The warm, humid environment, the use of upper body muscles, and the body position while swimming may be good for people with asthma . One warning, the chemicals used to treat swimming pools are a problem for some people. Other recommended activities and sports include:

  • Baseball

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Medications And Treatments For Eia

The goal of treating EIA is to let you participate in physical activities without triggering asthma. Once your physician determines that you have EIA, he or she will devise a plan which will permit you to participate in the exercise program or activity of your choice. The goal is to help you stay active.A plan will be individualized according to your needs. Techniques, medications, and devices commonly used to treat EIA include:

    • Modified training techniques


  • peak-flow monitoring

Cromolyn sodium, an inhaled medication that blocks the allergic response, has the ability to block early and late phase reactions of EIA.

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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The parents and teachers of children who have asthma are sometimes very cautious. Some even hesitate to let their children participate in sports at school because they’re scared it might trigger an asthma attack. This caution is usually exaggerated, though, and can even have negative consequences.

On the other hand, there is of course a risk that a child who has asthma might have an asthma attack while doing sports. So it’s important to adapt the childs physical activities to his or her situation. People such as sports teachers should also be told that the child has asthma and know what to do in an emergency. Parents can help their children to take their medication properly and make sure that they always have their reliever medication with them. You can talk to your child and a doctor to find out which types of sports may be more suitable than others. But it’s important to choose a sport that your child enjoys.

Bundesärztekammer , Kassenärztliche Bundesvereinigung , Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Wissenschaftlichen Medizinischen Fachgesellschaften . Nationale Versorgungsleitlinie: Asthma. AWMF-Registernr.: nvl-002. 2020.

Carson KV, Chandratilleke MG, Picot J et al. Physical training for asthma. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2013 : CD001116.

Dryden DM, Spooner CH, Stickland MK et al. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction and asthma. Evid Rep Technol Assess 2010 : 1-154, v-vi.

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What Are The Treatment Options For Exercise


As mentioned, EIB is a very manageable condition and when treated correctly, it shouldn’t impede your ability to work out.

“It’s so important that people get regular exercise,” says Dr. Smart, “and if they’re making choices to exercise less because of a condition that is manageable, they should be seen” by a doctor.

The most common treatment for EIB involves inhaling a fast-acting asthma medicine, such as albuterol, before you exercise, says Dr. Anand. Albuterol works by relaxing the muscles around the airways, she explains. Most people take it about 15 minutes before a workout, and it typically works well enough to prevent EIB symptoms altogether, says Dr. Smart.

Other people, including those with chronic asthma, may need to take a daily anti-inflammatory medication, like a pill called Singulair, or an inhaled steroid, says Dr. Smart. Or, they may take a combination of long-acting asthma medicine plus a steroid. Your primary care doctor or a doctor who specializes in allergies and immunology can help you figure out which meds, if any, you should take for EIB.

Medication aside, you may be able to reduce the severity of EIB by spending more time gently warming-up and cooling down before and after exercise, says Dr. Smart. There’s no magic number, but as a general rule of thumb, he suggests doubling the time of both your warm-up and cool-down. So if you normally do five minutes of dynamic stretching before and after you run, try 10.

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Key Points About Exercise

  • Exercise-induced asthma may be made worse by cold, dry conditions and if you are unfit.
  • Dont stop exercising, as exercise helps asthma through improved lung capacity and blood flow, and has an overall calming effect.
  • Get support and information from your doctor, nurse, pharmacist or asthma educator to help you manage EIA.
  • Managing your asthma when you are not exercising, correct breathing and exercise preparation help with EIA.
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    First Aid For Exercise

    There are four steps in the exercise-induced asthma first aid :

    • Step 1: Make the person sit upright and try to calm and reassure to help them.
    • Step 2: Ask them to take four puffs from the inhaler.
    • Step 3: Wait for 4 minutes to see if the symptoms subside.
    • Step 4: Call an ambulance immediately if the symptoms dont subside.

    Asthma attacks are unpredictable. That is why taking precautions is crucial to prevent exercise-induced asthma symptoms. Here are a few tips.

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    Precautions To Prevent Exercise

    • Always warm-up for 10-15 minutes before exercising.
    • Use your inhaler about 15-30 minutes before exercising.
    • Cover your mouth and nose when exercising in cold and dry weather.
    • Avoid outdoor exercises during spring to avoid pollen allergies.
    • Exercise indoors to avoid environmental allergens.
    • Carry a short-acting inhaler for emergency purposes.
    • Avoid swimming in chlorinated swimming pools.
    • Breathe through your nose while exercising.
    • Avoid changing your exercise routine drastically.
    • Do cool-down stretches for 10-20 minutes after exercising.

    Apart from taking preventive measures, you may also switch to low-risk exercises like the ones listed below.

    More Exercise Less Asthma


    Last but not least, when it comes to exercise-induced asthma, your overall health can play an important role. “Asthma severity does correlate with obesity, and the better shape you are in, the better your asthma can be controlled,” says Craig. “Research shows that going through conditioning is beneficial for asthma, both in quality of life and in controlling symptoms.

    “Exercise can improve both physical health and emotional well-being, even in people with exercise-induced asthma. Whether you are a weekend warrior or an Olympian, you can compete and participate in sports and activities to your fullest ability — just be sure to bring your inhaler along.

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    What Are The Causes Or Risk Factors Of Exercise

    People with chronic asthma and those who suffer from allergies are most at risk for EIB. Beyond that, we don’t have a super solid understanding of why some people have EIB while others don’t, says Dr. Parikh. It may be partly genetic, she adds.

    For people who do have EIB, various factors can trigger it. Any type of exercise can do this, but in general, cardio-centric activities and other intense workouts are more likely to induce EIB than gentler forms of exercise, says Dr. Parikh.

    Also, endurance sports that involve consistent effort seem to more commonly spark EIB than activities that involve bursts of hard work followed by lots of recovery , Brian A. Smart, MD, allergist and immunologist in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, tells Health.

    Weather may also play a role. For some people, exercising in cold weatherthink: cross-country skiing, ice skating, or winter running can prompt EIB. That’s because cold, dry air can irritate the airways and cause the surrounding muscles to constrict, Miriam Anand, MD, allergist and immunologist in Tempe, Arizona and advisor to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, tells Health. For other people, however, exercising in hot, humid weather can trigger EIB, says Dr. Parikh. Other triggers include pollution, allergies, and irritants like chlorine.

    Safe Exercises You Can Do

    • Brisk Walking: This low-impact aerobic exercise gets the heart pumping and burns a good number of calories. Slow down or stop when you feel out of breath. You may do it on a treadmill or outdoors. It is a great way to keep in shape.
    • Dancing: Dancing is a fun way to burn calories and get your serotonin levels high. Dance forms like cha-cha, tango, and contemporary help you stay physically active and learn a new skill. Make sure you do not stand directly under an AC vent.
    • Cycling: Cycling is a great way to burn calories and keep your legs in shape. However, avoid dry and rocky trails. Cover your nose and mouth . Alternatively, you can buy an exercise bike and exercise while enjoying your favorite playlist!
    • Water Exercises: Choose a pool that has chlorine-free and lukewarm water. You may swim or do low-impact aquatic exercises to strengthen and tone your body.
    • Resistance Training:Resistance band training exercises improve muscle tone. The bands come in various thicknesses, and you can do full-body exercises and burn calories anywhere, anytime.
    • Strength Training: Strength training with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and a Smith machine can help improve muscle tone and power. You may train at the gym or buy a few weights at home.

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    How To Diagnose The Condition

    If you believe you are experiencing severe breathing issues, you should consult with your doctor, advises the Mayo Clinic. They will analyze you with a medical exam. First, they will assess your lungs to rule out any underlying health problems that could be the reason for your symptoms.

    The doctor will probably use spirometry that will test the way your lungs are working when you are breathing. They will assess the exhaling rate and the amount of air you get when you inhale. With it, they can detect any obstructive abnormalities.

    Afterwards, you are most likely going to receive an inhaled medication known as the bronchodilator. Its meant to open up the lungs. You may have to re-do the test so that the physician can compare the final measurements.


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