Breathing heavily when exercising is normal. Coughing, wheezing and chest pain when exercising may be asthma. “Some people experience asthma symptoms when they’re exercising, but they don’t attribute their breathing problems to asthma because they don’t suffer from the disorder at other times,” says W. Keith Graham, MD, D-ABSM, pulmonologist and sleep medicine physician at Saint Francis Medical Center. “But exercise-induced asthma is still asthma. Like all forms of the disorder, exercise-induced asthma may require medical intervention to keep your airways free and clear – and keep you breathing safely.”
People with exercise-induced asthma do not need to avoid exercising, but they do need to take precautions. Environmental factors such as pollution, high pollen counts, cold or dry air, and exposure to smoking can worsen the condition. Treatments include inhalers, bronchodilators and other medications.