The Athlete’s Guide to Exercise Induced Asthma

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Exercise-Induced Asthma:Pathophysiology and Treatment

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  • Some asthma care providers may recommend a , but this is not specific for exercise induced asthma. Similarly, measuring pre- and post-exercise are not recommended to diagnose exercise induced asthma because results are often inaccurate.

    Other causes of the shortness of breath, chest tightness and coughing that mimic exercise induced asthma also need to be considered. This is especially important if you show no other asthma symptoms and do not benefit from some of the preventive measures outlined below. Other diagnoses your doctor may consider include:

  • In many cases a form of exercise testing with pre- and post-exercise is used to confirm an exercise induced asthma diagnosis. Generally, you will exercise on a treadmill or stationary bicycle until you reach 85 percent of your expected maximum heart rate. You are considered having exercise induced asthma if your (forced expiratory volume) falls more than 10 percent with exercise.

    For known asthma patients who experience typical symptoms during or after exercise, a physician will often make a presumptive diagnosis of exercise induced asthma by discussing symptoms with the patient. Many times a doctor will not seek further diagnostic testing unless the patient's exercise induced asthma symptoms persist, or the exercise induced asthma symptoms are not prevented with some of the measures outlined below.



    Inhaled corticosteroids

    These are some of the most common inhaled drugs for asthma, and include fluticasone, mometasone, budesonide and beclomethasone. You must take the drug for at least two to four weeks before the maximum benefits kick in.

    Combination inhalers

    These inhalers include a combination of corticosteroids and long-acting beta agonists. Though these are meant for long-term control, your doctor might advise you to take the daily dose before you exercise.

    Leukotriene modifiers

    These oral medications block inflammation in the body, and can be used on a daily basis. If they are used for exercise induced asthma, they must be taken about two hours in advance of activity.

  • If you have poorly controlled asthma and experience symptoms with exercise, treating the poorly controlled asthma may be the most beneficial strategy for you. Exercise induced asthma can generally be prevented using one of the following inhaled medications:

What Causes Exercise Induced Asthma?

Exercise induced asthma, or exercise induced bronchoconstriction, causes bronchoconstriction and asthma symptoms such as , coughing and that develop during exercise. It affects in 7 to 20 percent of the general population.