When I was young, I enjoyed athletic activities but was unable to participate for prolonged periods of time because I “could not breathe.” As hard as I tried to train and practice, my limiting factor was always the inability to catch my breath. After having a severe attack, I was taken to a specialist who diagnosed me with Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA). What was EIA? Could I still participate in so many of the activities I enjoyed? These are questions that, as a young adolescent, concerned me and as research on EIA has progressed over the years I have found the results of many of these studies to show that EIA in adolescent athletes is more prevalent than originally thought.  

EIA results in a tightening of your airways which then produce extra mucus, making it difficult to breath. EIA occurs most frequently with exercise or an external stimulus. Diagnosis is found by gathering a thorough history and specific testing. The most accurate of these is a free running test which generates specific conditions which can trigger EIA if a person has it.

A recent article published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at the incidence of EIA in adolescent athletes under various environmental and training conditions; specifically football, basketball, and water polo. This article found that certain environmental conditions that pertain to temperature and humidity can affect EIA occurrence during a sport. Following testing of athletes in these 3 sports, it was found that those with EIA have a higher incidence in certain outdoor sports, such as running or football, compared to swimmers who are in a controlled environment of humidity and heat.  Football and basketball were shown to trigger EIA symptoms but because these sports require short, frequent bursts of activity they resulted in a lower frequency of EIA episodes as compared to long distance running.

So how might this pertain to you or your child? Often times a person is deemed “out of shape” despite training. If this is the case, consider having yourself or your child evaluated for EIA. The common treatment for EIA is an inhaler before activity, but one should also consider incorporating respiratory activities, relaxation exercises, and interval training to improve the training tolerance to sports such as football, basketball or running. If you or your child continue to have challenges with EIA, consider a water sport activity as the occurrence of EIA attacks is much less prevalent and will offer the opportunity to stay active.

Have a great day,

Brandis Graves, P.T.