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Health Information For Teens
Most people with asthma have symptoms when they exercise. But some people (including those who do not have asthma) have asthma symptoms only during or after exercise: This is known as exercise-induced asthma (EIA) (also called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or EIB).
Symptoms of EIA include:
Really cold, dry air can make EIA symptoms worse.
People with exercise-induced asthma often start having symptoms 5–10 minutes after they begin working out. Symptoms usually peak 5–10 minutes after the person stops exercising, then go away within an hour. For some people, asthma symptoms last for hours after they exercise, or happen only after they stop exercising.
If you think you have EIA, let your parents know. You’ll need to see a doctor.
To decide if you have EIA, a doctor will probably start by asking about your medical history. The doctor will also examine you. You might run on a treadmill for 6 to 8 minutes, run outside, or do the activity that caused your symptoms. Then, the doctor will look at how you’re breathing.
Some people with EIA think they’re having breathing trouble because they’re not in shape. But someone who’s winded from being out of shape will start breathing normally again soon after exercise stops. Someone with EIA may take up to an hour to recover.
If you have exercise-induced asthma, your doctor might want you to take asthma medicine before being really active. This is often the same quick-relief medicine used for flare-ups. You breathe the medicine directly into your lungs before exercising and it works immediately to open up the airways. Doctors sometimes call this pretreatment.
If pretreatment isn’t enough, your doctor may recommend that you also take daily long-term control medicine. This works over time to help keep the airways open. You need to take it every day, even when you feel well.
Many people find that if they take medicine as prescribed by their doctors, they can work out with few or no problems.
There’s no reason to stop playing sports or working out because you have EIA. As well as keeping you fit, exercise can strengthen the breathing muscles in the chest and help your lungs work better. Doctors no longer tell people with asthma to avoid exercising and, in fact, often recommend it as part of asthma treatment.
Some sports and activities are less likely to cause problems, though. These include:
Some sports are more challenging for people with exercise-induced asthma, such as:
You probably still can do even the most challenging sports if you truly enjoy them. It just takes careful management, the right medicine, and proper training.
When it comes to EIA, staying one step ahead of your symptoms is a good strategy. Ask your doctor what you should do before exercising or playing sports.
Here are some of the things doctors suggest for people who have EIA:
Taking medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes is the most important tip of all. Skipping long-term control medicine, if it’s prescribed for you, can make symptoms worse. Forgetting to take medicine before exercise can lead to severe flare-ups and even ER visits.
Finally, always keep your inhaler with you when exercising. You may feel shy about your asthma, but don’t hide it from coaches or teammates — they can help you. Coaches especially should know about your asthma so they will understand if you need to take a break and use your medicine.
Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma.
Sports and exercise are a good idea for people with asthma. But some activities are better than others – find out more.
Asthma is a lung condition that makes it hard to breathe. Learn all about asthma here.
The weather can affect your asthma symptoms. If you think weather may be triggering your asthma, here are some tips for dealing with it.
Two different types of medicines are used to treat asthma: long-term control medicines and quick-relief medicines. Read about how they work, and why people might need to take them.
Lots of teens have asthma. Here are tips on keeping it under control so you can prevent (or manage) a flare-up at school.
Find out what can make your asthma worse, and what to do about it.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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