What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?

exercise induced asthma

We all know about the common triggers of asthma such as dust, pollution, infections and allergen. But did you know even exercise can cause asthma flare-ups? Yes, exercise-induced asthma is a condition that lead to breathing problems in asthmatics during or after exercise, especially with vigorous and prolonged exercise.

It is clinically known as exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the airways) as it is not a cause but a trigger of asthma in people who already have the condition.

This doesn’t mean that you avoid exercise completely because exercise can  help improve your lung function. Generally mild and intermittent exercise are recommended for patients suffering from asthma. Do talk to your doctor to know  how to avoid a flare-up and manage the condition.

Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma

Exercise-induced asthma causes the airways to become narrow and inflamed. It usually happens about 10 – 15 minutes after a person starts exercising. The signs and symptoms include:


-Tightness in the chest

-Shortness of breath


How to know about exercise-induced asthma?

In most cases, your doctor might be able to tell you about it based on the symptoms. If not, then a breathing test is advised to diagnose the condition. However, if you are already diagnosed with asthma and show the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, you might not need any testing.

In some cases, your doctor can also check for other problems that can cause difficulty in breathing after exercise, such as lung disease or heart problem.

Exercise-induced asthma is generally treated with a quick-relief medicine which is available as an inhaler. How and when to used this medicine depends on the severity of your condition. Consult your doctor for guidance.

If the symptoms persist, or if you experience any new symptoms, then consult your doctor immediately.

Can exercise-induced asthma attacks be prevented?

The best way to avoid this trigger is to ensure you take your medicines on time and as recommended by your doctor. In addition to this, here are few tips that can help you control asthma and lower the risk of experiencing the symptoms when you exercise.

-Take your medicines before you start to exercise.

-For kids, who are active most of the day, talk to the doctor for a more appropriate medicine.

-Do not exercise outside, especially in cold and dry weather.

-When exercising outdoors, ensure you cover your nose and mouth with a scarf.

-Do not forget to warm up before exercising.

Follow these tips to stay healthy and prevent exercise-induced asthma.

(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit KanodiaConsultant Pharmacologist)


Storms WW. Asthma associated with exercise. Immunol Allergy Clin North Am 2005; 25:31.

Lucas SR, Platts-Mills TA. Physical activity and exercise in asthma: relevance to etiology and treatment. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2005; 115:928.

Parsons JP, Hallstrand TS, Mastronarde JG, et al. An official American Thoracic Society clinical practice guideline: exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2013; 187:1016.

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