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Exercise-induced asthma

Wheezing - exercise-induced; Reactive airway disease - exercise; Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction

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Exercise-induced asthma

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Description

Sometimes exercise triggers asthma symptoms. This is called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). In the past this was a called exercise-induced asthma. Exercise does not cause asthma, but it can cause airways to constrict (narrow). Most people with asthma have EIB, but not everyone with EIB has asthma.

The symptoms of EIB 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.

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 EIB triggers.

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

Do not exercise when the air is polluted. Avoid exercising near fields or lawns that have just been mowed.

Warm up before you exercise, and cool down afterward:

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

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.

Long-acting, inhaled medicines may also help.

Follow your health care provider's advice on which medicines to use and when.

Related Information

Asthma
Asthma in children
Asthma and allergy resources
Wheezing
Asthma - child - discharge
Asthma - control drugs
Asthma - quick-relief drugs
Exercising and asthma at school
Make peak flow a habit
Signs of an asthma attack
Stay away from asthma triggers
How to use a nebulizer
Asthma and school
How to use an inhaler - no spacer
How to use an inhaler - with spacer
How to use your peak flow meter
Asthma in adults - what to ask the doctor
Asthma in children - what to ask your doctor

References

Lugogo N, Que LG, Carr TF, Kraft M. Asthma: diagnosis and management. In: Broaddus VC, Ernst JD, King TE, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 62.

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Asthma Management Guidelines: Focused Updates 2020. www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/asthma-management-guidelines-2020-updates. Updated February 4, 2021. Accessed April 25, 2022.

Nowak RM, Tokarski GF. Asthma. In: Walla RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 63.

Secasanu VP, Parsons JP. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee, Drez, & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 13.

Weiler JM, Brannan JD, Randolph CC, et al. Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction update - 2016. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2016;138(5):1292-1295.e36. PMID: 27665489 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27665489/.

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Review Date: 1/8/2022  

Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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