Physical exertion continued for a long duration may trigger respiratory difficulties, which are referred to as exercise-induced asthma or exercise-induced bronchospasm. In most cases, the symptoms of this condition are experienced during exercise. The symptoms can even appear in people who do not have chronic asthma of any kind. Although this condition cannot be completely cured, it can be kept under control so one can continue exercising.
During exercise, breathing through the mouth may cause the airways to contract, resulting in the characteristic symptoms of the condition.
The characteristics of asthma induced by exercise include:
The symptoms usually start within 5 to 20 minutes of starting an exercise. In some cases, the symptoms may start 5 to 10 minutes after the completion of an exercise. People with these symptoms do not need to avoid doing any exercise; one can continue with regular exercise after taking adequate precautions.
Taking inhalers and bronchodilators before doing any form of exercise would be of help in preventing the symptoms of this condition. Among the asthma medications, beta-2-agonists can be taken before exercise to prevent the airways from contracting. Cromolyn sodium inhalation taken 20 minutes before the exercise session would help in preventing the symptoms as well. Warming up adequately before an exercise and cooling down after an exercise session is also good to prevent the symptoms. Symptoms of asthma often increase with infections; it is better to avoid exercise while an individual is sick.
For those who have symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, some activities are better than others. Volleyball, gymnastics, baseball, and walking have short, intermittent periods of exertion, which is more suitable for people with exercise-induced asthma. These people should ideally avoid activities in cold conditions, like ice hockey and ice-skating. It is better to perform exercises or participate in sports that occur in warm, moist environments.
Here are some tips to avoid symptoms of exercise-induced asthma:
- Use inhalers before an exercise session.
- Always perform appropriate warm ups and cool downs when exercising.
- Exercise indoors if the weather is cold.
- Avoid outside activities during allergy season.
- Avoid doing exercise if there you have an infection.
Long-term asthma medications, like inhaled corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, theophylline, and combination inhalers will help to manage this condition.