Sometimes exercise triggers asthma symptoms. This is called exercise-induced asthma (EIA).
The symptoms of EIA are coughing, wheezing, a feeling of tightness in your chest, or shortness of breath. Most times, these symptoms start soon after you stop exercising. Some people may have symptoms after they start exercising.
Having asthma symptoms when you exercise does not mean you cannot or should not exercise. But be aware of your EIA triggers.
Cold or dry air may trigger your asthma symptoms. If you do exercise in cold or dry air:
Do not exercise when the air is polluted. Do not exercise near fields or lawns that have just been mowed.
Warm up before you exercise, and cool down afterward:
Some kinds of exercise may be less likely to trigger asthma symptoms than others.
Activities that keep you moving fast all the time are more likely to trigger asthma symptoms, such as running, basketball, or soccer.
Take your short-acting, or quick-relief, inhaled medicines before you exercise.
Long-acting, inhaled medicines may also help.
Follow your doctor's advice on which medicines to use and when.
Durrani SR, Busse WW. Management of asthma in adolescents and adults. In: Adkinson NF Jr., Bochner BS, Burks AW, et al., eds. In: Middleton's Allergy Principles and Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 55.
Weiler JM, Anderson SD, Randolph C, et al.; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; Joint Council of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Pathogenesis, prevalence, diagnosis, and management of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: a practice parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010;105(6 Suppl):S1-S47.
Updated by: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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