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Exercise-Induced Asthma (cont.)

Exercise-Induced Asthma Medications

Inhaled, short-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilators are the medications most often used to prevent asthma attacks in exercise-induced asthma.

  • Use two to four puffs five to 30 minutes before exercising. The medication works best if taken just before exercising.
  • This class of drugs is chemically related to adrenaline, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands.
  • Inhaled beta2-agonists work rapidly (within minutes) to open the breathing passages. They relax the muscles of the breathing passages, dilating the passages and decreasing the resistance to exhaled airflow, making it easier to breathe.
  • They are effective in most people with exercise-induced asthma.
  • The effects last as long as four to six hours.
  • They have no effect on the underlying cause of the asthma attack.
  • They can also be used to relieve symptoms if an attack occurs.
  • Side effects include rapid heartbeat and shakiness.
  • Albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin) is the most frequently used beta2-agonist medication.

Longer-acting (12-hour) beta2-agonist inhalers, including salmeterol (Serevent) and formoterol (Foradil) are also available. These are more convenient for some people. For example, a child can use the long-acting inhaler before going to school in the morning to prevent an asthma attack during physical education class or recess.

Inhaled corticosteroids such as beclomethasone (Qvar), fluticasone (Flovent), and mometasone (Asmanex) are also effective therapy for exercise-induced asthma. For effect, these work better if taken a few hours before exercise.

Exercise-Induced Asthma Follow-up

Asthma is a long-term disease, but it can be managed. Your active involvement in treating this disease is vitally important.

  • Take your prescribed medication(s) as directed.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • See your health-care professional regularly according to the recommended schedule.
  • By following these steps, you can help minimize the frequency and severity of your asthma attacks.

Exercise-Induced Asthma Prevention

Treatment in exercise-induced asthma is focused on preventing or minimizing asthma attacks. If you take your prescribed medication as directed, you should be able to exercise without asthma symptoms.

Exercise-Induced Asthma Prognosis

Most people with exercise-induced asthma are able to control their condition if they work together with a health-care professional and follow their treatment regimen carefully.

People who do not seek medical care or do not follow an appropriate treatment plan are likely to experience worsening of their asthma and deterioration in their ability to function normally.

Medically reviewed by James E. Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease


"Patient information: Exercise-induced asthma (Beyond the Basics)"

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2016

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