Managing Exercised Induced Asthma
by: Madinah English, ATC
What is Exercise Induced Asthma?
Asthma is a chronic disease affecting the airways (bronchial tubes) of the lungs. Asthma causes the muscles around the bronchial tubes to tighten making it difficult to inhale and exhale air from the lungs. The airways (bronchial tubes) of asthmatics are constantly inflamed and they become more swollen and irritated during an attack. The constriction and inflammation of the airways from the asthma causes narrowing of the bronchial tubes.
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breat
- Symptoms and their duration may vary*
Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) is triggered by the cooling and drying of the airways (bronchial tubes) that occurs as a result of exercise. The cooling and drying of the airways causes the muscles to constrict around the bronchial tubes. Some symptoms may begin 5 to 10 minutes after beginning exercise and peak after 5 to 10 minutes post exercise. Symptoms and their duration vary. EIA is more prevalent in dry and cold environments or in individuals with poor physical conditioning.
Signs & Symptoms:
• Winded or becomes tired easily during or after exercise
• Coughs when he or she goes from outdoors to indoors
• Can’t run for more than a few minutes without stopping
• Chest tightness
• Shortness of breath
EIA often goes undiagnosed in many athletes. Hitti (2007) concluded from her study that 42 of the 107 collegiate athletes tested had EIA and many did not have a history of asthma. Kallstorm (2008) states asthmatic deaths amongst males diagnosed with asthma are dominant between the ages 10-20. The National Institute of Health reported more than 22 million people in the United States have asthma and Centers for Disease and Control estimates around 4,000 Americans pass away from asthma every year.
Management of Exercise-Induced Asthma:
• Assessment & Monitoring
• Know what conditions trigger EIA
• Patient Education
• Adjust environment
• Perform warm up exercises to help prevent tightening of the chest
• Take rescue medication near the start of exercise (Albuterol, etc)
• Breath through nose during exercise
• Cool down post exercise to help lungs adjust
• Be consistent with medication
Even though asthma and exercised-induced asthma have similar signs, symptoms, and triggering factors, it is vital to understand the difference and management between the two. Since asthma and EIA are both treatable, the proper manage begins with understanding the disease and taking the proper precautions to prevent or manage attacks. Unlike asthma, EIA is more likely to occur during and/or post exercise and is more predictable compared to asthma. Always be prepared and never assume every attack whether exercised induced or allergen will be the same.
Hitti, M. (2007). Exercised-Induced Asthma seen in 42 of 107 college athletes
studied; many had no asthma history. Retrieved from MedicineNet.com
Kallstorm, T. (2008). Asthma and the athlete. Retrieved December 7, 2008. From
Allergy and Asthma Health
Web site: http://www.yourlunghealth.org
National Institutes of Health. (2007). New approaches for monitoring asthma
control, expanded recommendations for children. Retrieved from National,
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
GlaxoSmithKline. (1997-2008). About Asthma. Retrieved from GlaxoSmithKline
Web site: http://www.asthma.com/about_asthma.html
Asthma Guide. (2005-2008). Asthma Symptoms. Retrieved from Web MD.
Nemours Foundation. (1995-2008). Exercise-Induced- Asthma. Retrieved from
Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/asthma/exercise_asthma.html
More, D. (2008). Exercised-induced asthma worsen by exercise. Retrieved from
About. Com: Allergies
Web site: http://allergies.about.com/od/lungallergies/a/exerciseasthma.htm
Madinah English, ATC enters her first season at Columbus State University (CSU) as a graduate assistant athletic trainer. Originally, from Daytona Beach, Florida, English received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Athletic Training from the University of South Florida in May of 2008. She was an active member in the Athletic Training Student Association (ATSA) and participated in the South Eastern Athletic Trainers Association (SEATA). In addition to working with USF athletics, she completed a rotation with Tampa Preparatory School gaining experience with both middle and high school athletes. Madinah is working towards her Master’s Degree in Health and Physical Education. She will also be working alongside the Hughston Athletic Training Fellowship Program and its certified athletic trainers through Hughston Hospital’s athletic training outreach program.