Exercise-induced asthma is an asthma attack triggered by prolonged or intensive physical exercise. If you are someone who suffers from asthma already, you are more likely to experience asthma symptoms during or after exercise. However, it is also common for people to experience exercise-induced asthma during physical exertion, even if they do not have asthma symptoms at any other time.
Exercise, or physical exertion, can induce asthma symptoms. This is because the way we breathe changes when we exercise.
In normal breathing, we breathe mostly through our noses. The air we inhale travels through our nasal passages, getting warm and moist before reaching our lungs.
When we breathe during exercise, it tends to be through our mouths rather than our noses. This means that the air we inhale is cooler and drier. Cold and dry air can be a shock to our airways, which are very sensitive to any change in temperature or humidity. The muscles in the airways react by narrowing or closing in, thereby triggering the asthma symptoms.
The symptoms of exercise-induced asthma are very similar to those of chronic asthma, or to a normal asthma attack. They include:
Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma usually occur around 5-20 minutes into a long period of exercise, or 5-10 minutes after finishing short periods of exercise. Make sure to consult your doctor if you ever experience asthma symptoms during or immediately after exercise.
Sometimes, asthma attacks are unavoidable. But there are some things you can do to help prevent exercise-induced asthma:
You should treat exercise-induced asthma like you would your normal asthma symptoms, or an asthma attack. Try to remain calm, and use your reliever inhaler to relieve your symptoms, taking 1 puff of your inhaler every 30-60 seconds for a maximum of 10 puffs.
If your symptoms do not improve, or you are worried at any point, dial 999 for an ambulance and repeat the first steps while waiting for medical assistance.
Yes! There is no reason you should avoid exercise or physical activity if you have asthma. In fact, exercising regularly will help your overall health, and may even improve your symptoms.
If you follow the steps above for preventing exercise-induced asthma, you should be able to exercise normally, without the symptoms of an attack.
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