Understanding Exercise-Induced Asthma (West Region)


This article contains information specific to beneficiaries living in the West RegionAlaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa (excludes Rock Island arsenal area), Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri (except St. Louis area), Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas (southwestern corner including El Paso), Utah, Washington and Wyoming.. Check the map to find your region.

Exercise-induced asthma, also called exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), causes airways to narrow. This makes it harder to breathe. While it isn’t the root cause of asthma, exercise is one of several factors that can trigger breathing difficulties for those diagnosed with asthma.

According to the Mayo Clinic, EIB is more likely to occur in:

  • People with asthma. About 90% of people with asthma have EIB.
  • Elite athletes. Although anyone can have EIB, it’s more common in high-level athletes.

Some common triggers include:

  • Cold air
  • Dry air
  • Air pollution
  • Chlorine in swimming pools
  • Chemicals from ice cleaning equipment
  • Activities with extended periods of deep breathing, such as long-distance running or swimming

Signs and symptoms usually begin during or soon after exercise and can last for 60 minutes or longer if untreated. Look out for:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Fatigue during exercise
  • Decreased athletic performance
  • Avoidance of activity (mostly among young children)

Because EIB has similar signs and symptoms of asthma, it’s important to get a diagnosis from your doctor. You’ll likely be given a spirometry test and other tests to get a diagnosis.

Resources for asthma, exercise, and EIB:

Last Updated 11/22/2022