What is it?

Exercise-induced asthma is when the airways narrow or squeeze during hard physical activity. It causes shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and other symptoms during or after exercise.
Many people with asthma have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. But people without asthma also can have it.
Most people with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can continue to exercise and remain active if they treat symptoms. Treatment includes asthma medicines and taking steps to prevent symptoms before physical activity starts.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Exercise induced asthma

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction usually begin during or soon after exercise. These symptoms can last for an hour or longer if untreated. Symptoms include:
* Coughing.
* Wheezing.
* Shortness of breath.
* Chest tightness or pain.
* Fatigue during exercise.
* Poorer than expected athletic performance.
* Avoiding activity, which happens mostly in young children.

Diagnosis

To diagnose exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, the doctor first takes a medical history and does a physical exam. You may have tests to check your lung function and rule out other conditions.
* Test of current lung function- the doctor will likely perform a spirometry test. This exam shows how well your lungs function when you aren't exercising. A spirometer measures how much air you inhale, how much you exhale and how quickly you exhale.
* Exercise challenge tests- During an exercise challenge test, you run on a treadmill or use other stationary exercise equipment to increase your breathing rate.
* Methacholine challenge breathing test- This test involves inhaling an agent, often methacholine, that narrows the airways in some people with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Afterward, a spirometry test checks lung function. This test mimics the conditions likely to trigger exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

Treatment

The doctor might prescribe medicines to take shortly before exercise or to take daily for long-term control.

Preexercise medicines
If your provider prescribes a medicine to take before exercising, ask how much time you need between taking the medicine and starting the activity.
* Short-acting beta agonists (SABAs) are the most commonly prescribed medicines to take before exercising. These medicines include albuterol and levalbuterol. SABAs are inhaled medicines that help open airways. Do not use these medicines every day because it can make them less effective.
* Ipratropium is an inhaled medicine that relaxes the airways and may be effective for some people. A generic version of ipratropium also can be taken with a device called a nebulizer.

Long-term control medicines
Your provider may prescribe a long-term control medicine to manage underlying asthma or to control symptoms when preexercise treatment alone doesn't work. These medicines are usually taken daily. They include:
* Inhaled corticosteroids, which help calm inflammation in your airways. You take these medicines by breathing them in. You might need to use this treatment for up to four weeks before it will have maximum benefit.
* Combination inhalers, which contain a corticosteroid and a long-acting beta agonist (LABA), a medicine that relaxes airways. These inhalers are prescribed for long-term control, but your provider may recommend using it before you exercise.
* Leukotriene modifiers, which are medicines that block inflammatory activity for some people. These medicines are taken by mouth. They can be used daily or before exercise if taken at least two hours in advance.

Possible side effects of leukotriene modifiers include behavior and mood changes and suicidal thoughts. Talk to your provider if you have these symptoms.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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