Exercise-induced asthma

Asthma caused by exercising

HCA UK has the expertise to treat a range of respiratory disorders including asthma — find out more about how we can help


Asthma is a common long-term respiratory condition that affects the lungs. It often starts in childhood but can also develop in adults, and affects people of all ages.

Exercise-induced asthma occurs as a result of physical activity. People with exercise-induced asthma may only have symptoms of asthma when they exercise, and not at other times.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    The most common symptoms of exercise-induced asthma are:

    • wheezing (a whistling sound that occurs when breathing)
    • breathlessness
    • a tight feeling in the chest
    • coughing

    Symptoms are more commonly experienced after exercising. They may be intense at first, but gradually improve. Some people may already have an asthma diagnosis when they experience symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, whereas others only get asthma symptoms during exercise. Sometimes the symptoms can get considerably worse. This is called an asthma attack. It can be a medical emergency if your asthma medication does not alleviate the symptoms after up to 10 puffs of your inhaler.

  • How to prepare icon plus

    If you have any of the symptoms above, you should see your GP or consultant. They will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. Tests your GP or consultant may recommend include:

    • FeNO test, which involves breathing into a machine to measure the level of nitric oxide in your breath, a sign of lung inflammation.
    • Spirometry, which involves blowing into a machine that measures the speed you can breathe out and the amount of air your lungs can hold.
    • Peak flow test, which involves blowing into a handheld device to measure the speed you can breathe out. This may be repeated over a few weeks to monitor changes.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    There is no cure for exercise-induced asthma currently, but there are treatment options available to help manage your symptoms. These may include:

    • Inhalers. Devices that help to relieve your symptoms by breathing in medication. They can also help to reduce the sensitivity and inflammation in your lungs.
    • Leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) and steroid tablets. These help control your symptoms.
    • Injections. Given every few weeks to manage your symptoms.
    • Surgery (bronchial thermoplasty). A thin tube is passed down your throat into the lungs. Heat is then applied to stop airways narrowing and causing symptoms of asthma.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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