Exercise-Induced Bronchospasm in Children
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.
Exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) is a temporary inflammation and narrowing of your child's airway while he or she exercises. Irritants such as pollution, allergens, or cold, dry air may trigger EIB. Your child may be more likely to have EIB if he or she exercises during illness. Illnesses that may trigger an EIB include an infection in your child's nose, throat, sinuses, airway, or lungs. Symptoms usually are worst 5 to 10 minutes after exercise stops and last for 20 to 30 minutes.
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:
- Your child has severe pain in his or her chest.
- Your child has trouble thinking, or he or she faints.
- Your child is so short of breath that he or she has trouble walking and talking.
Return to the emergency department if:
- The skin around your child's chest and neck pulls in with each breath.
Call your child's doctor if:
- Your child's symptoms get worse.
- Your child uses short-acting medicine every day, or more frequently than usual.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
- Medicines help decrease inflammation, open airways, and make it easier for him or her to breathe. Short-acting medicine is taken 15 minutes 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 or her symptoms. Medicine may be inhaled or taken as a pill. Make sure your child knows how to use an inhaler.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell the provider if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
EIB Action Plan:
Your child's healthcare provider 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. Share this action plan with trainers and coaches if your child is an athlete. They should also be able to recognize the symptoms of EIB and know what to do if they occur.
The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.
Have your child use a peak flow meter as directed:
A peak flow meter is a small handheld device that measures how well air moves in and out of your child's lungs. The healthcare provider may have your child use this device to check his or her breathing before or during exercise. It will show if your child needs to take medicine. Ask for more information on how to use a peak flow meter.
Help your child prevent EIB episodes:
- Tell your child to breathe through his or her nose during exercise. 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 or her mouth during outdoor exercise. In cold weather, this will help warm the air he or she breathes. It may also help prevent your child 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 or her 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 or she 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 or she should also cool down for at least 10 minutes afterward.
- Keep your child away from cigarette smoke. Tobacco smoke increases your child's risk for an EIB. Move your child away from anyone who is smoking. Talk to your older child about not smoking. Your child's healthcare provider can give you information if you or your child smokes and wants help quitting.
- Do not let your child exercise if he or she has a respiratory infection. Ask your child's healthcare provider when it is okay for him or her to exercise.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provideras directed:
Your child may need to return to make sure his or her medicine is working and symptoms are controlled. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
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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.
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