Exercise is an important part of keeping healthy, and people with asthma can and should exercise. Sometimes exercise can cause asthma symptoms. These asthma symptoms occur right after being active, when lungs need extra oxygen. This type of asthma is called exercise-induced asthma.
To diagnose exercise-induced asthma, your doctor may measure your lung function before and after exercise. There are many athletes, including Olympic gold medal winners, who have exercise-induced asthma. Air pollution, cigarette smoke, and cold dry air make exercise-induced asthma worse. Air that is humid and warm is less likely to cause symptoms. That is why swimming is a popular form of exercise for people with asthma. Medicines taken before activity can help those with exercise-induced asthma stay active.
Written by Karen Serrano, MD
Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD
Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine
Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University
Board certified in Allergy and Immunology
Last updated June 2008