Exercise-induced Bronchospasm In Children

What is exercise-induced bronchospasm?

Exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) is a temporary inflammation and narrowing of your child's airway. EIB occurs during or 5 to 10 minutes after strenuous exercise. Irritants such as pollution, allergens, or cold, dry air may trigger an EIB. Your child may be more likely to have EIB if he exercises while he is sick. Illnesses that may trigger an EIB include an infection in your child's nose, throat, sinuses, airway, or lungs.

What are the signs and symptoms of EIB?

Your child may have a cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest tightness. Your child may get tired very easily or have trouble keeping up during exercise. Your child may also have trouble doing physical activities during certain seasons. Symptoms usually last for 30 to 60 minutes. Symptoms may also go away completely, and then return 12 to 16 hours after exercise.

How is EIB diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver will ask about any medical problems your child has, such as asthma, allergies, or lung infections. He may ask if a family member has asthma or allergies. Tell your child's caregiver about his symptoms, activities that cause them, and how often they occur. Tell him about any medicine or treatments that have been used for your child's symptoms. Lung function tests will be done to measure the airflow in your child's lungs and show how well he can breathe. Your child's caregiver may test his lungs before and after he exercises. He may also be given medicine to trigger an EIB. Your child's caregiver will test his lungs before and after he takes the medicine.

How is EIB treated?

Your child may need medicine to help decrease inflammation, open airways, and make it easier for him to breathe. Short-acting medicine is taken right before strenuous exercise, or when your child has symptoms. Long-acting medicine is taken daily to help prevent an exercise-induced attack. Your child may also need medicine to control allergies that trigger his symptoms. Medicine may be inhaled, taken as a pill, or injected. Make sure your child knows how to use an inhaler.

How can I help my child prevent EIB?

Your child's caregiver will give you a written action plan. This plan contains your child's treatment instructions. It will tell you how to recognize symptoms of an EIB. If your child is an athlete, ask his caregiver for written certificates for his medicines. The following can help prevent an EIB:

  • Tell your to child breathe through his nose when he exercises. This helps warm the outside air before it reaches the airway. Deep breathing will also help open your child's airway.

  • Have your child wear a mask over his mouth when he exercises outdoors. In cold weather, this will help warm the air he breathes. It may also help prevent him from breathing in allergens, irritants, and germs that cause infections. Your child may wear a scarf or mask, or use breathing masks or filters.

  • Have your child exercise in areas that do not trigger his EIB. Swimming pools, ice rinks, and other indoor arenas may have increased amounts of gases in the air. If chlorine or other gases trigger your child's EIB, he may need to exercise outdoors. Outdoor physical activities should be avoided during the afternoon and evening when air pollution is highest.

  • Make sure your child does warm-up exercises , such as walking or stretching, before intense exercise or physical activities. He should also cool down for at least 10 minutes afterward.

  • Do not smoke or let your child be around secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke increases your child's risk for an EIB.

  • Do not let your child exercise if he has a respiratory infection. Your child may need to rest for 2 to 3 weeks after being sick. Ask when your child can exercise again.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

  • Your child has increased wheezing, coughing, or trouble breathing even after he takes his medicines.

  • Your child's medicines do not relieve his symptoms.

  • You or your child has questions or concerns about his condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • Your child has severe pain in his chest.

  • Your child has trouble thinking, or he faints.

  • Your child is so short of breath that he has trouble walking and talking.

  • The skin around your child's chest and neck pulls in with each breath.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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