The symptoms with which chronic asthma presents are cough, breathlessness, chest tightness, or wheezing and are caused by the airways in the lungs narrowing. Many triggers cause chronic asthma e.g. colds, dust mites and exercise. In addition to chronic asthma another condition is Exercise Induced Asthma or (EIA) when physical activity is the only trigger causing narrowing of the airways, and producing the symptoms of asthma.
When breathing normally air enters our lungs through the nose, where it is warmed, moistened, and filtered. During exercise it is necessary to breath through our mouths, enabling us to acquire the large amounts of air needed to sustain the increased level of energy. In susceptible airways when we breathe air that is unfiltered, dry and cold it causes bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the airways), producing the symptoms of asthma chest tightness, wheeze/cough and breathlessness.
If you have any of these symptoms during or after playing sport or exercising/activities, you may be experiencing EIA:
If you think you may have any of the signs of EIA and have not been diagnosed with asthma, please contact your family doctor for advice.
Being active is important for people with asthma as it helps in the management of the condition. Exercise helps to strengthen the muscles used for breathing, and over time may even help to improve your EIA symptoms. If you have chronic asthma it is important that you participate in sports/exercise to help in the management of asthma.
If you already know you have EIA, or chronic asthma here is some advice to help prevent symptoms:
If you experience symptoms playing sport/exercising:
If your symptoms continue or return after you recommence, STOP, repeat inhaler instructions and see a doctor as soon as possible.
Take a look at our Exercise Induced Asthma brochure for more information.