Find out more information on exercise-induced asthma and how student athletes can manage their asthma and still enjoy their favorite sports.
Exercise-induced asthma is chronic inflammation of the passageways of the lungs due to a variety of triggers such as air contaminants, stress, or sensitivities to changes in temperature and humidity when exercising. When the bronchi of the lungs react to one or more of those triggers, the inflation begins and causes symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness/pain, coughing, wheezing, and fatigue.
We reached out to Dr. Dan Carter of Children’s Hospital and Greenvale Pediatrics who says, “It is tough to pin down one cause. Some experience this due to seasonal allergies and only get symptoms in certain seasons. Others experience this as part of their constant asthma that affects their lungs all of the time.”
Dr. Carter shared more information on exercise-induced asthma and his advice on how student athletes can manage their asthma and still enjoy their favorite sports.
Q: How do you differentiate between exercise-induced asthma and just being winded?
Those who suffer from this describe an almost suffocating feeling in which it is difficult to get enough air in or out. The winded feeling from strenuous exercise is short-lived, and a short rest usually takes away that feeling completely. Exercise-induced asthma can sometimes go away on its own, but takes much longer and often requires an inhaler to open the lungs to break the cycle of coughing and wheezing.
Q: How is exercise-induced asthma treated?
The treatment for any exercise-induced asthma is albuterol, a medication that opens the airways. Many who know they have exercise induced asthma use this medication before or right after starting an activity to prevent any of their symptoms. Many others are mild enough that they only use their albuterol as a rescue medication in case of any attacks while exercising.
Q: Are there certain sports that can be more problematic for those with exercise-induced asthma?
Any sport requiring a lot of aerobic activity – examples of particularly problematic sports are soccer, cross country, track and football.
Q: Is it important for those with this condition to remain active and fit despite their asthma? Why?
Of course. First and foremost is the overall health that aerobic activities contribute to your body. In most cases the more conditioned someone’s lungs are, the less severe their asthma attacks become.
Q: Are there any tips for minimizing exercise-induced asthma before/during sport s activities?
For anyone with frequent attacks, it is beneficial to take a dose of albuterol prior to a strenuous activity.
Q: Do you have any advice for athletes whose coaches may not understand the condition?
Try to emphasize that this condition is a dangerous cycle of over-reactive lungs. That is what causes the coughing and wheezing. To break the cycle, albuterol is needed in most cases before exercise and always with any attacks. The attacks will stop but not in a matter of seconds. They need a matter of several minutes after medicine and rest to end.