What is Exercise-Induced Asthma?

As a chronic condition characterized by the inflammation and constriction of airways, extra production of mucus, and difficulty breathing, asthma can make life much more difficult for those who suffer from it. This is particularly true when asthma sufferers confront triggers, which commonly include things like dust mites, mold and mildew, smoke, pollen, pet dander, and even chemicals. For some people with asthma, even exercise can trigger an attack.

Exercise-induced asthma is the term used to describe asthma symptoms – narrowing of the lung’s airways – which are triggered by exercise. Typically, asthma sufferers will experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, and more following physical activity, especially if the exercise is strenuous and / or taxes the body’s cardiovascular system.

The condition is also referred to exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, which medical experts believe more accurately describes the fact that while exercise triggers constriction of airways, it is not the underlying cause of asthma. Experts are still continuing to explore what precisely causes exercise-induced asthma, as there could be more than one biological reason for symptoms. For example, researchers have noted that strenuous exercise causes a molecular reaction that results in inflammation and excessive mucus. They have also noted that other conditions can trigger symptoms or increase risks, including: cold and dry air, high pollen counts, extended periods of deep breathing (long distance running, and more.

Exercise is just one of many triggers that can result in symptoms or attacks, but it can great be a significant trigger. These symptoms, which may range in severity depending on the person and the level of activity performed, can begin either during or shortly after exercise, and can last for 30 minutes or more when untreated. Common symptoms associated with exercise-induced asthma include:

  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightness or pain in chest
  • Excessive fatigue or poor athletic performance
  • Feeling out of shape, even when in good shape
  • Avoiding physical activity (common in children)

Symptoms of exercise-induce asthma can make a range of physical activity much more difficult, and may even prevent some people from participating in certain activities. Children who suffer from the condition are also likely to shy away from physical activity and games that aggravate their symptoms. As many asthma sufferers find, the condition can place a number of limitations on their lives. Fortunately, exercise-induced asthma can be effectively treated and preventative measures can be taken to help asthma sufferers continue to exercise and remain active with fewer negative symptoms.

Our asthma specialists at the Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia are passionate about helping patients of all ages find lasting relief that enables them to live full, healthy, and active lives. By conducting an assessment during an individual consultation, and using tests such as spirometry or an exercise challenge, our team can help you better understand your underlying condition.

Treatment plans are created around the unique issues of our patients, and for exercise-induced asthma may include daily medications for controlling symptoms or short acting beta antagonists like albuterol. We also educate our patients about their condition and provide them with the information and insight they need to ensure they take all steps needed to manage symptoms with minimal impact on their life.

Don’t let exercise-induced asthma prevent you from living a full and productive life, or prevent your child from being active. Call our team at Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia today or schedule an appointment online. Our asthma specialists proudly serve patients throughout the Atlanta metro area and surrounding communities of Georgia from multiple office locations.

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