An attack is a short period when breathing becomes difficult, sometimes along with chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing. When this happens during or after , it is known as or exercise-induced bronchospasm. About 70 to 90 out of 100 people who have persistent asthma and about 10 out of 100 people who do not have asthma have exercise-induced asthma., Exercise-induced asthma develops most often in athletes, especially those who train or perform in cold air. Swimming appears to cause the fewest problems for children who have asthma. Swimming may even help reduce the severity of exercise-induced asthma.
Asthmatics can exercise and get fit. This Asthma and Exercise video by health and fitness expert Mirabai Holland, shows you how to exercise with Asthma.
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction describes the narrowing of the airway that occurs with exercise. More than 10 percent of the general population and up to 90 percent of persons previously diagnosed with asthma have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness with exercise; however, many athletes will present with nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and impaired performance. Spirometry should be performed initially to evaluate for underlying chronic asthma, although results are often normal. An empiric trial of short-acting beta2 agonists or additional bronchial provocation testing may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Nonpharmacologic treatment options include avoiding known triggers, choosing sports with low minute ventilation, warming up before exercising, and wearing a heat exchange mask in cold weather. Short-acting beta2 agonists are recommended first-line agents for pharmacologic treatment, although leukotriene receptor antagonists or inhaled corticosteroids with or without long-acting beta2 agonists may be needed in refractory cases. If symptoms persist despite treatment, alternative diagnoses such as cardiac or other pulmonary etiologies, vocal cord dysfunction, or anxiety should be considered.
The difference between land-based exercise and swimming in terms of breathing pattern and volume is significant for asthmatics.20 On land, your breathing pattern during exercise is not restricted the way it is in water, meaning that you can very easily over-breathe, resulting in constricted airways, a reduction in the amount of CO2 in your blood, and a lower BOLT/CP score. For an asthmatic, over-breathing during rest leads to over-breathing during exercise, which in turn leads to exercise-induced asthma. However, exercising in water naturally causes you to restrict your breathing and lower your breathing volume towards normal, providing a much safer and more productive environment for asthmatics to exercise.20