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Exercise-Induced Asthma

People with asthma have what is called a chronic or continuing problem with their airways, which can become swollen, narrowed, and clogged with mucus. To make matters worse, common stuff, like pollen and cigarette smoke, can worsen breathing problems and cause flare-ups.

Most people with asthma (up to 80%) have symptoms when they exercise. And some people have asthma symptoms only when they exercise. This is called exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Interestingly, up to 20% of people who don't have asthma sometimes develop asthma-like symptoms while exercising. This is why doctors sometimes call the condition exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, or EIB (bronchoconstriction refers to the narrowing of the airways in the lungs).

Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Asthma

Symptoms of EIA include wheezing, tightness or pain in the chest, coughing, and sometimes prolonged shortness of breath.

People with EIA will often start having symptoms 5 to 10 minutes after they begin working out. Symptoms usually peak 5 to 10 minutes after the person stops exercising then go away within an hour. Some people with EIA also have symptoms for hours after they exercise. Sometimes symptoms appear only after the person has stopped exercising. Really cold weather can make EIA worse.

Some people with EIA think that their problem is that they are out of shape. But there's an easy way to tell the difference. Someone who is simply winded from being out of shape will soon start breathing normally again after finishing exercising. But for someone with EIA, it may take up to an hour to recover and breathe normally again.

If you think you have EIA, you should tell your parents and see a doctor.

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