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Exercise-induced Bronchospasm in Children


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 attack. 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.



  • Medicines help decrease inflammation, open airways, and make it easier for your child 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. If your child is an athlete, ask his healthcare provider for written certificates for his medicines.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him 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.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may need to return to make sure his medicine is working and his symptoms are controlled. Your child may be referred to an asthma specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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. Your child's healthcare provider may have your child use this device to check his breathing before or during exercise. It will show if he needs to take medicine. Ask for more information on how to use a peak flow meter.

Help your child prevent an EIB:

Your child's healthcare provider may 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. The following can help prevent an EIB:

  • Tell your child to 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 activities should be avoided during the afternoon or 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 cool down for at least 10 minutes afterward.
  • 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.

Explain the dangers of smoking to your child:

Tobacco smoke increases your child's risk for an EIB. Keep him away from secondhand smoke.

Ask about vaccines:

Your child may need a flu or pneumonia vaccine. These help prevent infections that can trigger an EIB.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • 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.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child has severe chest pain.
  • Your child has trouble thinking, or he faints.
  • Your child is so short of breath that he has trouble walking or talking.
  • The skin around your child's chest and neck pulls in with each breath.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Exercise-induced Bronchospasm in Children (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

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