Pulmonology (Respiratory Care)

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Asthma: Exercise-Induced Asthma Special Needs Factsheet

What Teachers and Coaches Should Know

Exercise is one of the most common triggers for kids and teens with asthma. But some people who don't have asthma have what's called exercise-induced asthma (EIA).

When this happens, a person might:

  • wheeze or cough
  • feel tightness or pain in the chest
  • have shortness of breath

Symptoms may happen within 5 to 10 minutes of exercising, and peak 5 to 10 minutes after exercising stops. Symptoms usually go away within 1 hour.

Students with EIA may:

  • get winded or tired easily during or after exercise
  • cough after coming inside from being active outdoors
  • not be able to run for more than a few minutes without stopping
  • need to use daily asthma medicine with an inhaler or other inhaled medicines when symptoms happen

What Teachers and Coaches Can Do

Having EIA doesn't mean students should skip sports, gym classes, or other physical activities. Students with EIA may need to use inhalers before exercise.

Teachers and coaches can help students with EIA by:

  • reminding them to carry and use their inhaler before activity
  • making time for proper warm-ups and cool-downs during practices, games, and other physical activities
  • encouraging them to breathe through the nose during exercise
  • having them take breaks during exercise and use an inhaler as prescribed if symptoms start
  • avoiding exercise in cold temperatures

You should know your students' asthma triggers and allow them to use their medicines when needed. If a student's symptoms don't improve or get worse after taking medicine, call the school nurse or 911.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 13, 2017