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Exercise-Induced Asthma: A Practical Guide to Definitions, Diagnosis, Prevalence, and Treatment

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Exercise-induced asthma is defined as an intermittent narrowing of the airways, demonstrated by a decrease in some measure of flow, that the patient experiences as wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and difficulty breathing that is triggered by exercise. Exercise will trigger asthma in most individuals who have chronic asthma, as well as in some who do not otherwise have asthma. Definitive diagnosis requires demonstration of a drop in flow rate, typically ≥13–15% for forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and ≥15–20% for peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR), after exercise, associated with symptoms. Prevalence data indicate that this disorder is very common in those who participate in recreational sports as well as in highly competitive athletes, with at least 12–15% of unselected athletes having positive exercise challenges. Treatment of exercise induced asthma involves use of nonpharmacological measures (such as the use of the refractory period after exercise and prewarming air) as well as use of medications (beta-agonists, cromolyn, and nedocromil). With treatment, those who suffer from exercise-induced asthma may be able to participate and compete at the highest levels of performance.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 1996

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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