Is Exercise-Induced Asthma Taking Your Breath Away?
Exercise is supposed to help your body stay healthy and strong. But what if your workouts seem to do the opposite, leaving you coughing, weak and gasping for air?
You may have exercise-induced asthma, which affects 10 to 15% of the general population and up to 80 to 90% of people with asthma.
What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?
Exercise-induced asthma occurs when the airways in the lungs temporarily narrow during or after intense physical activity. The medical term for the condition is exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB).
The symptoms of EIB vary in severity and include:
- Coughing (the most common symptom)
- Wheezing (a high-pitched whistling sound during breathing)
- Chest tightness or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
In general, you’ll notice that symptoms start within three minutes of beginning your exercise routine, peak within 10 to 15 minutes and end approximately one hour after you stop exercising.
Common treatment options you can try include short-acting bronchodilators, such as inhalers, which help relax and open your airways, making breathing easier. You would use these 15 to 20 minutes before exercising to prevent symptoms from occurring.
Additionally, your doctor may recommend using long-acting bronchodilators and inhaled corticosteroids to control symptoms and reduce airway inflammation in the long term.
Activities to Avoid & Those to Try
EIB can be triggered by various sports and activities, especially those that involve extended aerobic effort or exposure to cold, dry air. Examples include running, soccer, basketball, cycling, ice skating and skiing.
Activities that require you to use short bursts of energy or occur in warmer environments are less likely to trigger symptoms. Walking, swimming, volleyball and laid-back biking are good choices for people with EIB.
Whatever you do, don’t stop exercising! By consulting with a doctor and taking preventative measures, you can live an active, full life with the condition.
Don’t let EIB slow you down. Request an appointment with our ENT experts today.