Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA)
Airway obstruction following exercise was first observed among individuals with underlying asthma from which the term exercise-induced asthma (EIA) was derived. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways in which many cells and cellular elements play a role, and it is associated with bronchial (or airway) hyper-responsiveness. We define EIA as the condition in which exercise induces symptoms of asthma in patients who have asthma.
EIA gained considerable attention following the 1972 Olympic Games when a gold medalist swimmer, Rick Demont, had his medal rescinded because he took oral ephedrine prior to the race to control his EIA .
Asthma is known to have a negative impact on health-related quality of life. The threat of an asthma attack may result in withdrawal from physical and social activities, which can lead to deconditioning, weight gain, and to an altered sense of self-esteem
The fear of sudden breathlessness creates a sense of panic, which may prevent children and adults from participating in sports and cause parents of children with asthma to impose restrictions.
Common clinical symptoms include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, excessive mucus production, chest tightness, chest pain or an itching or scratching sensation in the chest.
Exercise in cold weather aggravates Asthma:
During winter and in cold weather, allergens and irritants are more likely to be present indoors, increasing symptoms for asthma sufferers who are affected by these triggers. The cold and dry air can cause and increase the severity of asthma symptoms. The exact cause of asthma due to inhalation of cold air is not yet clear, but it is known that the temperature of air is very important. Inhalation of cold, dry air causes the normally warm, humid lining of the airways to become cold and dry. This causes our body to respond by tightening the airways and thickening the mucus, leading to the symptoms of asthma. When exercising, our breathing frequency also increases, which can exacerbate Exercise Induced Asthma.
Exercise Induced Asthma can be detected by taking a thorough medical history. It is suspected when individuals, who otherwise have good lung function, complain of recurrent shortness of breath and symptoms of cough, wheeze, chest pain, or prolonged recovery time following exercise.
Through a combination of education, a commitment to fitness, pharmacologic intervention, and use of nonpharmacologic strategies, Exercise Induced Asthma can be successfully managed in the majority of cases.