Do I Have Exercise-Induced Asthma?

If you are out of breath while running, then how do you know if it is basic exercise fatigue or something more?

You could have exercise-induced asthma.

The doctors at Arkansas Allergy and Asthma clinic can diagnose this condition, and identify what type it is. A doctor will help control your asthma, and they will develop a treatment plan that works for you.

Exercise-induced asthma

Exercise-induced asthma means you might have a more difficult time breathing while exercising. Exercise causes airflow obstruction which then triggers bronchoconstriction (EIB). Interestingly enough, at least 90 percent of all asthmatics will experience EIB while exercising.

How do you know if you have it?

Although a doctor’s diagnosis will help pinpoint what type of asthma you have, some symptoms appear across the spectrum of patients with EIB regardless of type.

Symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue during exercise
  • lower-than-expected athletic performance
  • avoidance of activity (in children)

What causes it?

Mouth breathing while exercising is one of the more distinct causes of EIB. It cools the air more than if you breathed through your nose and constricts your air passageway in a process called bronchoconstriction.

Increased pollution levels, a large amount of pollen in the air, and exposure to smoke or other irritants might also worsen your symptoms.

Treating it

If your doctor diagnoses you with EIB, then they will establish a treatment plan that usually involves one of these three medicines.

Your doctor could prescribe a short-acting bronchodilator, or the medicine in an inhaler, that works best when taken 15 minutes prior to vigorous exercise. This will control symptoms for about 4 hours. A long-acting bronchodilator that also involves an inhaler works best when taken 30 to 60 minutes prior to vigorous exercise and can last up to 12 hours. Your doctor could also prescribe mast cell stabilizers to take 15 to 20 minutes prior to vigorous exercise to help control symptoms before they appear.

Whether you or a member of your household has exercise-induced asthma, there are a few easy ways that you can improve your home’s air quality that may help minimize the triggers.

Considering washing your clothes regularly to keep out dirt. Also, try to minimize cologne or perfume usage in the home. You should also consider running the vacuum regularly and cleaning windows with a wet cloth rather than dry dusting them. Using a purifier will also help minimize toxins in the house.

Managing it

Living with exercise-induced asthma does not mean you must live a dormant life. After all, one study showed that many Olympic athletes compete with this condition. Another study at Ohio State University found that about 40 percent of its athletes have it.

Thus, exercise-induced asthma should not keep you from enjoying outdoor activities. These studies show the possibilities of an active life with this condition, so do not let the symptoms discourage you from achieving the lifestyle you want.

Indeed, you have many options for staying active despite your condition. A few of these options include walking, yoga, and swimming. Research suggests that the severity, workout rate, and duration of the exercise determines the severity of your symptoms, so be cautious of lengthy and intense exercises that could worsen your symptoms.

There are however some things to remember before you get going. First, warm up before exercising in cold weather. It is good to warm up regardless of the weather, but cold weather proves particularly difficult for exercises with this condition. Second, cover your mouth with a mask or scarf while exercising. This helps prevent you from inhaling cold air that could worsen your symptoms. Last but not least, be conscious of your breathing, and do not forget to take your prescribed medicine. Reckless breathing could worsen your symptoms, and not taking medication reflects a lack of management that impedes your improvement.

Risks and complications may include a complete lack of beneficial exercise, poor performance in these sports, or possibly life-threatening or serious difficulty breathing on a long-term basis.

Contact us

Arkansas Allergy and Asthma can diagnose you if you show symptoms of EIB. Call us at (501)-222-7114 to set an appointment, and we will partner with you to create a treatment plan that works for you.