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Exercise and Asthma: Is Exercise Jeopardizing Your Health?
- Tightness in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Excess mucus
- Lacking endurance during exercise
Causes and Risk Factors
Treatments Help Keep You Active
- Use your inhaler.—Use an inhaler 15 minutes before exercising if your doctor recommends it. Carry it with you while you are exercising, and use it if you experience asthma symptoms. If you do not have medicine with you when you experience EIA, move into the warmest, most humid place you can find.
- Consider adding swimming to your exercise program.—Because the air is warmer and moister when swimming, there is less chance of an EIA attack. The only water sport that people should be cautious about participating in is scuba diving. See your doctor if you are interested in scuba diving and have asthma. Also, keep in mind that a heavily chlorinated pool may trigger your asthma symptoms.
- Take precautions during colder weather.—Wear a face mask or scarf over your nose and mouth when exercising in cold weather. This warms the air before it reaches your lungs.
- Breathe through your nose.—Although this may be difficult as the intensity of your workout increases, breathing through your nose helps warm the air before it reaches your airways.
- If you are sensitive to pollen, exercise indoors when pollen counts are high.—If you have to exercise outside, talk to your doctor about adjusting your medication to manage your asthma.
- Warm up before exercising.—If advised by your doctor, warm up for 15 minutes before starting your routine.
- Take a break if you your daily asthma is not under control.
- Watch the intensity of your workouts.—Athletes participating in high-intensity aerobic sports, especially with cold air exposure, are more likely to experience EIA symptoms.
The American Lung Association http://www.lungusa.org
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America htt://www.aafa.org
Allergy Asthma Information Association http://aaia.ca
The Canadian Lung Association http://www.lung.ca
Asthma and exercise: tips to remember. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/asthma-library/asthma-and-exercise.aspx. Accessed February 6, 2014.
Davies MJ, Fisher LH, Chegini S, Craig TJ. Asthma and the diver. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2005 Oct;29(2):131
Exercise-induced bronchoconstruction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 17, 2013. Accessed February 6, 2014.
Exercise-induced asthma. Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/asthma/exercise%5Fasthma.html#. Updated January 2014. Accessed February 6, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 02/10/2014