What Is Exercise-Induced Asthma?

Learn about the causes of this condition and easy preventative measures you can take postworkout.

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Exercise-induced asthma has been renamed exercise-induced bronchoconstriction because it involves the narrowing of airways — but isn’t a root cause of asthma. Exercise naturally results in a shortness of breath, and heavy breathing and dehydration can narrow the airways in the lungs of all people but has a stronger effect on those with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. In fact, up to 90 percent of those with asthma also experience this condition.

Typically, symptoms start at some point during exercise and worsen about 10 to 15 minutes after training is finished, and they include wheezing, coughing, fatigue, poor performance and chest pain. Though its true cause is still unclear, there are factors that may trigger exercise-induced bronchoconstriction or make it worse such as pollution, high pollen count, chlorine in pools, fumes from cleaning products or perfume, and air dryness. Breathing through your mouth also can be a trigger because you allow cold, dry air to get deep into your airways without first being warmed in the nasal cavity.

If you have asthma or severe allergies that can affect breathing, keep your inhaler on hand, cool down completely after training, wear a scarf over your nose and mouth when exercising outside in the cold, and exercise indoors when the pollen count is high or air quality is poor.