WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is inflammation and narrowing of the airways. EIA can occur in people with or without asthma. EIA may happen during or after exercise or physical activity, especially in cold weather.
- Inhaled short-acting bronchodilators: These are given to help open your airways quickly. They start to work right away and are used to relieve sudden, severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing. They are called relievers or rescue inhalers.
- Steroids: These help decrease swelling and open your airways to help you breathe easier. They may be given as pills or in an inhaler. Inhaled steroids are used for long-term control.
- Antihistamines: These medicines can treat allergies that may be causing your breathing problems.
- Leukotriene antagonists: These medicines can decrease swelling in your lungs. They may stop you from having more wheezing or shortness of breath. They may also stop your attacks from lasting for long periods.
- Mast cell stabilizers: These can help prevent swelling in your lungs.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
You may need more tests to see how well your treatment is working. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Peak expiratory flow:
You may need to test and write down your peak expiratory flow (PEF) every day. Your PEF can help you know when to take your medicines. Your PEF can also tell your primary healthcare provider how well your medicine is working. Use your peak flow meter correctly to get an accurate PEF. Ask how to use a peak flow meter correctly and how to read your PEF values.
Manage exercise-induced asthma during physical activity:
- Breathe through your nose: This helps warm and moisten outside air before it reaches your airway. Deep breathing can also help open your airway.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you exercise in the cold: Wear a scarf or mask to help warm the air you breathe in.
- Warm up and cool down: Warm up by walking or stretching before you exercise. Cool down for at least 10 minutes after heavy exercise. Wait for 2 hours after you eat to exercise.
- Exercise in clean, warm, humid air: You may have decreased symptoms if you exercise indoors. Do not exercise outdoors during the afternoon or evening when air pollution is highest.
- Use a peak flow meter: This is a small tube with a measuring scale or meter (like a ruler) on the side. It measures how much and how fast you exhale. A peak flow meter can help tell you when you should treat your EIA.
Prevent exercise-induced asthma:
- Rest when you have symptoms or you are sick: Do not exercise if you are already experiencing symptoms of asthma. Do not exercise if you have a lung infection or the flu. After being sick, you may need to rest for 2 to 3 weeks before you exercise again. Ask when you can start exercising again.
- Prevent colds or the flu: Stay away from people who have colds or the flu. Ask your primary healthcare provider if you should get vaccines to help prevent the flu or pneumonia.
- Do not smoke: If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can further harm your lungs. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You cough or wheeze more than usual.
- Your medicines do not relieve your symptoms as well as they used to.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have wheezing or shortness of breath that does not get better with treatment.
- You feel weak, dizzy, or faint.
- You have severe chest pain.
- Your chest and neck are pulled or sucked in with each breath.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.