How is exercise induced asthma treated?
Exercise induced asthma can be treated with asthma medications, such as inhalers. Exercise induced asthma cannot be cured, but the right asthma treatment plan can help you to prevent symptoms. You may be given an inhaler which can be taken just before you exercise, daily, or when you have symptoms. Oral medications are also sometimes needed to treat exercise induced asthma that hasn’t improved with inhaler treatments.
If you only get asthma symptoms when you exercise, you will be given a reliever inhaler. This type of inhaler contains a medication called a short acting beta agonist or bronchodilator. It helps to open up the airways by relaxing the muscles. You can take it 10 to 15 minutes before you exercise to prevent symptoms for up to 4 hours. You can also take it if you get symptoms whilst exercising.
Another type of inhaler that can be used in exercise induced asthma treatment is a preventer inhaler, which contains a long acting bronchodilator. You should take this every day as instructed by your doctor to try to prevent asthma symptoms from occuring.
There are also inhalers that act as both a preventer and reliever inhaler, such as Fostair.
There are other medications available if you have exercise induced asthma and your symptoms are not well controlled with inhaler treatments..
Exercise induced asthma medications include:
- steroid tablets, which are sometimes prescribed in short courses if you have a flare up of your asthma symptoms
- theophylline, a bronchodilator which opens your airways and is taken daily
- leukotriene receptor antagonists (LTRAs) such as montelukast, which reduces inflammation in your airways
How effective are exercise induced asthma treatments?
Exercise induced asthma treatments are effective when taken correctly. If you have been given an inhaler, your doctor can show you how to use it properly to make sure it is effective. If you have a preventer inhaler and have been told to use it every day, you should take it even if your exercise induced asthma gets better.
If at any time your asthma treatment is not working, follow your asthma action plan and speak to your doctor straight away. They may need to change your medication.
How long do exercise induced asthma treatments take to work?
A reliever inhaler, which is one of the most common exercise induced asthma treatments, will take around 5 to 15 minutes to work.
A preventer inhaler can take a few days to a week to improve your asthma symptoms. These work best when taken daily for a long time, as the medication has time to take effect in your body and keep your airways open.
What should I do if I’m having an asthma attack?
If you have already been diagnosed with asthma, you should have an asthma action plan. This will tell you what to do if you have an asthma attack. It will tell you how many puffs of your reliever inhaler to take and how often you can take it if your symptoms are not getting better. You should also sit down and try to calm your breathing.
If your symptoms do not get better and you have taken your inhaler and medications, you should call 999 or get to A&E straight away. If your asthma attack gets better after using your inhaler, you should still let your doctor know what happened.