40% to 90% of people with asthma have EIB and 20% of people with EIB do not have asthma

*According to the National Library of Medicine

Condition content was medically reviewed by an AllerVie Health physician in April 2023.

What is exercise-induced asthma?

Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA) has been classified as Exercise-induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB). It is a temporary condition that mimics asthma symptoms and follows vigorous exercise. Not all people with EIB actually also have asthma. In fact 40% to 90% of people with asthma have EIB and 20% of people with EIB do not have asthma. People of all athletic levels can have EIB. The treatments for EIB and asthma are basically the same.

Symptoms of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB)

Some people with asthma that is made worse by exercise are likely to have symptoms 15 minutes after starting to work out. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour for symptoms to stop. The physical symptoms include:

  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing/Wheezing
  • Tightness in the chest

You can also experience emotional symptoms with EIB. You may feel more fearful, frustrated, isolated, depressed or embarrassed. If your asthma keeps you from exercising, it can negatively impact your quality of life. 

Symptoms vary between mild and severe and appear within seconds of starting to exercise as well when you finish the exercises. Symptoms normally start to go away after 30 minutes of rest. Exercise-Induced Asthma may come back for at least 1-2 days after you exercise. They are usually present during sleep. This is known as late phases of symptoms. The symptoms will disappear within one hour of starting therapy.

How we diagnose EIB

Your doctor will ask questions regarding asthma and allergies. Since the symptoms of EIB occur along your entire airway, your doctor will look at your nasal airway, your pharynx and larynx, lower airways and even your heart and digestive tract. Your doctor may also conduct a spirometry test to test how well your lungs are functioning.

Medicines that Treat Exercise-Induced Asthma


Short-Acting Beta Agonists (SABA)

This would be the first line of defense and works by relaxing the airways.


Inhaled Corticosteroids (ICS)

If symptoms are not well controlled with the SABA or you’re using SABA daily, additional medications can be added. ICS appears to be more effective in patients with underlying asthma and are dose-dependent. ICS is not effective when used intermittently before exercise.


Leukotriene Receptor Antagonists (LTRA)

LTRAs may take 2-4 weeks for the maximal benefit. They provide longer-lasting benefits


Mast Cell Stabilizing Agents (MCSA)



Antihistamine may be beneficial in patients with allergies.

how to prevent eib without a prescription

  • Wear a mask or mouth covering to keep the air you breathe moist and warm.
  • Gradually increase the amount of time you exercise.
  • Work to stay at a healthy weight.
  • Drink coffee before exercise.
  • Adopt a low-salt diet supplemented with fish oil and vitamin C.

Lifestyle changes

You can also work on reducing the “perception” of symptoms and the anxiety that EIB can cause with mindful practices that include breathing exercises and yoga.


Even if you have EIB, it’s important to still find ways to exercise. The best sports for you may be ones that are not endurance sports but rather require short bursts of energy, like the following:

  • Volleyball
  • Gymnastics
  • Baseball
  • Wrestling
  • Golf
  • Swimming
  • Football

Exercise-induced asthma prognosis

If you follow the treatment recommended by your doctor, you will still be able to enjoy rigorous physical activity and EIB will not prevent you from competing in your sport.

Exercise-induced asthma after covid-19

If you have asthma, your response to COVID-19 may be more severe since asthma is considered an underlying comorbidity. People with asthma are more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19. 

However, there are many other factors that contribute to how severely you will experience COVID-19. One of the most important steps you can take is to get vaccinated.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does exercised-induced asthma last?

Is exercise induced asthma an underlying condition for covid?

What is the VA disability rating for exercise induced asthma?