The preferred term to describe exercise-induced asthma is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. While exercise causes the narrowing of the airways (bronchoconstriction), it’s just one of many triggers that can induce an asthma attack in those afflicted with the ailment. Allergies and infection are other common causes.
But asthma should not be a reason to quit exercising or playing sports. With preventative actions and proper medications, asthmatics can live healthy, fitness-filled lives.
Symptoms of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction
Indications you may have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness and pain
- Fatigue during exercise
- Poor athletic performance
- Feeling out of shape (when you aren’t)
Diseases other than asthma or bronchoconstriction can cause these symptoms, so proper diagnosis by a physician is important.
Factors contributing to symptoms:
Strenuous exercise can cause inflammation and mucus in the airways. But other factors can increase the risk of an attack and they point to some sports that may be more connected to asthma than others. Factors include:
- Cold or dry air
- Air pollution or high pollen counts
- Chlorine (swimming pools)
- Chemicals used with ice rink resurfacing equipment
- Respiratory infections
- Activities with extended periods of deep breathing (soccer, long-distance running, swimming)
Treating exercise-induced bronchoconstriction
Doctors often prescribe medications to take shortly before exercising as well as daily for long-term maintenance. Additionally, patients can reduce the risk of an attack following these steps:
- Do a 10-minute warm-up, varying intensity before you begin exercising.
- Breathe through your nose so the air is warm and humidified before it enters your lungs.
- Wear a scarf or face mask when exercising, especially in cold weather.
- Avoid allergy triggers.
- Do not exercise rigorously if you have a cold or respiratory infection.
- Exercise regularly to maintain overall health.
Schedule an appointment with Lake Norman Pulmonary & Critical Care if you feel your symptoms may indicate exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. With a proper diagnosis and treatment plan, you’ll be back on the court, field, rink or track in no time.