Exercise induced asthma (EIA):

   Research from the National Asthma Campaign (NAC) indicates that approximately 80 percent of people with asthma have symptoms triggered by exercise.  However, there is a type of asthma called 'exercise induced asthma' which sole trigger is exercise.  Anyone with asthma can suffer from this condition, from children and adults, as well as recreational/elite athletes.  EIA can be diagnosed using a peak flow meter to determine how quickly you can inhale air in one breath before and after exercise, it is not recognized by the conventional tests for asthma. 

   The exact trigger of asthma from physical exercise is still unknown.  Although experts believe it has something to do with the change in breathing pattern during exercise.  Shenagh Hume an asthma nurse from the NAC has explained this effect by observing the varying moisture level in the air we breath -a known cause for asthma.  She explains that normally we breathe through our nose leaving time for our upper airways to add warmth and moisture to the air we breath before it reaches the lungs.  During exercise we are forced to breath much faster, and also through our mouths, meaning that there isn't time for this warming process to take place.

  Sufferers often find that their symptoms begin 5-20 minutes into their workout, and also worsen about 15 minutes after they finish.

  Certain types of exercise are known to be better than others for people with EIA.  Swimming for example is thought to be less risky due to the humid air in the pool.  Sports with intermittent periods of activity, such as tennis and golf, are less likely to cause symptoms.  Running and cycling however are stronger triggers, as they need prolonged effort.   



   Treatment is usually in the form of inhaled steroids or beta2 agonists.  Leukotriene receptor agonist tablets are available for the average gym-goer.  However these tablets are not allowed in competitive sport.  During low intensity aerobic exercise over the counter nasal strips have become very popular.  These strips which are worn across the top of the nostrils, reduce nasal resistance, and thereby allow the inhaled air to be warmed somewhat.  

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