Exercise Induced Asthma

March 2017
  • Exercise induced asthma is relatively common, in particular in children. Many people have symptoms for years before realising it is a problem, putting down their wheeze and breathlessness down to age or fitness.
  • It is triggered by a prolonged hyperventilation associated with cooling and a drying of the airways.
  • Exercise induced asthma is sometimes the first sign of asthma.
  • A dry cough or wheezing can occur during or just after exercise. It can sometime worsen, triggering a true asthma attack.
  • Exercise induced asthma can quickly and easily be diagnosed. The use of a peak flow diary is one way or asking the patient to exercise during a consultation is another.
  • A study was carried out amongst a hundred sportsmen. It revealed that 40% of them had exercise induced asthma for which most of them they were unaware of it.
  • Severe episodes of exercise induced asthma were reported in sportsmen younger than 21 years of age. Screening this age bracket of sportsmen is a necessary step forward.
  • Certain sports, like jogging, cycling, endurance are more prone to exercise induced asthma.
  • Cold and dry air are added aggravating factors of exercise induced asthma. Many children or adults have worse symptoms in cold and dry weather.
  • In certain people, the association of exercise, hyperventilation and cold air can cause an asthma attack.

Advice for asthmatics doing sports


  • Warm up for approximately fifteen minutes before exercising in order to open up the bronchi.
  • Start your exercise regime gradually and gently.
  • Always take 2 puffs of your blue reliever inhaler, (fast acting bronchodilator inhaler) 10 to 15 minutes before doing exercise. In the event of symptoms, a further 2 puffs will be necessary.
  • Ensure you are monitored by you GP or asthma nurse as additional medication may be beneficial and prevent exercise induced symptoms.
  • Wearing scarves, hats and balaclavas when the weather is cold decrease the inhalation of cold and dry air.


Never start doing exercise intensely without warming up first.

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