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Symptoms and Signs of Exercise-Induced Asthma

Doctor's Notes on Exercise-Induced Asthma

Exercise-induced asthma is a chronic condition of inflammation and narrowing of the breathing passages that occur periodically when a triggering substance, environmental change or activity (in this disease, exercise) is encountered by the patient. Signs and symptoms begin about 5-20 minutes after beginning exercise, reach peak intensity in about 5-10 minutes after stopping exercise and gradually lessen. One or more of the following may occur: coughing, wheezing, decreased exercise capacity, chest tightness, chest pain, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Children may complain they can’t keep up or avoid physical games to avoid symptoms.

The cause of exercise-induced asthma is unclear; the source of inflammation is unknown. The rapid movement of non-heated or humidified air needed in exercises seems to be a trigger to set off the periodic attacks. Genetics may play a role as this disease tends to occur in families.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.