Have you noticed that you are easily winded or feel tired quickly during — or right after — exercising? Do you regularly cough after exercising outside? When you run, can you only do so for a few minutes before you have to stop and catch your breath? Answering yes to these questions may indicate that you have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.
What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?
Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) can leave you feeling short of breath after being active outdoors. You may also experience wheezing, coughing, and tightness or pain in your chest. Also called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or EIB, this type of asthma occurs during or after strenuous exercise, which causes a narrowing of airways, also known as bronchoconstriction.
There are factors that can make EIA worse. These include:
- Cold air
- Dry air
- Air pollution
- Chlorine in swimming pools
- Chemicals from ice cleaning equipment
- Activities that require extended periods of deep breathing, such as long-distance running, swimming, or soccer
Diagnosing Exercise-Induced Asthma
To figure out if you have Exercise-Induced Asthma, you will need to visit an allergist. They will take a medical history, including asking about relatives with asthma or other breathing difficulties. They may also want to learn about any of your regular physical activities, including where you exercise and how often. They will look for any upper airway problems that could also be causing issues when you work out.
The information you give will help the allergist determine if you have EIA, if you are reacting to an allergen or irritant in the air, or if you may have another breathing-related condition.
Treatment Options for Exercise-Induced Asthma
There are several options for treating Exercise-Induced Asthma. Your allergist may prescribe either short-acting beta-agonists or ipratropium for you to take prior to working out. Both are inhaled medications that can relax and open your airways to prevent exercise-induced asthma. Typically these are taken up to 30 minutes before exercising and last for two to four hours.
If the pre-exercise treatments don’t prove effective, there are some long-term options. These options are taken daily and include:
- Inhaled corticosteroids: These drugs suppress inflammation in the airways and may need to be taken for up to four weeks before you will begin to feel their full benefit.
- Combination inhalers: This option contains a corticosteroid and a long-acting beta-agonist (LABA). LABA will relax your airways.
- Leukotriene modifiers: This is an oral medication that can be taken daily to block inflammation in the airways.
If you are seeking treatment for asthma or allergies, Columbia Allergy is here to help. Our providers take a patient-focused approach that views every person as an individual with unique challenges and goals. Contact us at any of our convenient locations in California, Oregon, Idaho, or Washington to learn more about how we can help.
This is not medical advice. Make sure to consult a medical professional for a diagnosis.