Exercise induced Asthma (EIA)

Exercise-induced asthma differs from “normal” shortness of breath that you experience when you’re unfit.

Exercise-induced asthma symptoms such as a tight chest, a dry cough, difficulty breathing and difficulty talking in sentences occur as a result of limited airflow to the lungs. These symptoms usually present about 10 minutes after the start of or after vigorous exercise.

The vast majority of people with exercise-induced asthma have underlying, persistent asthma. They’re considered to have uncontrolled or poorly controlled asthma. If you have to limit your activities in any way due to asthma symptoms, talk to your doctor.

High-intensity and endurance sports are more likely to induce asthma than sports that are less intense and which require lower endurance levels, e.g. swimming, shorter runs, walking and cycling. But this doesn’t mean you can’t play rugby, hockey, squash or other high-intensity or endurance sports.

Exercise-induced asthma symptoms occur more commonly and are more intense when inhaled air is cold and dry.

Exercise Action Plan

Do you have asthma? Then follow this action plan to participate in sports:

Step 1: Exercise regularly

  • Don’t avoid exercise.
  • Adjust the intensity of the exercise to accommodate your fitness levels.
  • Warm up properly before you exercise.

Step 2. Manage your medication

  • Step up your controller therapy to achieve excellent off-the-field control and, if needed, add extra reliever puffs before exercise.
  • Your controller therapy should be taken every day. If you have well-controlled asthma and you still experience exercise-induced asthma despite taking your controller therapy every day, two puffs of reliever therapy taken 15 minutes before exercise will help to control your asthma for 1-2 hours.
  • Combination inhaler therapy (a single inhaler containing both a controller and a reliever) may also be a good option.

Discuss all these options with your doctor. No matter what type of exercise you prefer, you should be treated adequately to enjoy unlimited activity.