Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction: Diagnosis and management

Michael A. Krafczyk, Chad A. Asplund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction describes the narrowing of the airway that occurs with exercise. More than 10 percent of the general population and up to 90 percent of persons previously diagnosed with asthma have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Common symptoms include coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness with exercise; however, many athletes will present with nonspecific symptoms, such as fatigue and impaired performance. Spirometry should be performed initially to evaluate for underlying chronic asthma, although results are often normal. An empiric trial of short-acting beta2 agonists or additional bronchial provocation testing may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Nonpharmacologic treatment options include avoiding known triggers, choosing sports with low minute ventilation, warming up before exercising, and wearing a heat exchange mask in cold weather. Short-acting beta2 agonists are recommended first-line agents for pharmacologic treatment, although leukotriene receptor antagonists or inhaled corticosteroids with or without long-acting beta2 agonists may be needed in refractory cases. If symptoms persist despite treatment, alternative diagnoses such as cardiac or other pulmonary etiologies, vocal cord dysfunction, or anxiety should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-434
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican family physician
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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