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Ann Allergy. 1993 Dec;71(6):571-7.

Update on exercise-induced asthma.

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UCLA School of Medicine.


Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is a temporary increase in airway resistance that occurs after several minutes of strenuous exercise, generally eight to 15 minutes after the patient has stopped exercising. Some individuals experience a secondary reduction in pulmonary function several hours later, the so-called late-phase response. Many physicians believe that EIA is caused by respiratory water loss or airway cooling. Others incriminate tissue mast cells of the lung. The role of histamine is uncertain because it is detected inconsistently in the serum after an attack. Recent studies suggest that the release of sulfidopeptide leukotrienes may play a major role in EIA. Although the exact pathophysiology has yet to be determined, several highly successful treatment regimens have been developed. Preventive pharmacologic treatment with aerosolized beta-agonists is more successful than treatment with cromolyn sodium; however, coadministration of these agents produces significant symptomatic improvement in more than 90% of patients. Other useful medications include antihistamines, anticholinergic agents, theophylline, oral beta-agonists, calcium channel blockers, alpha-adrenergic antagonists, nedocromil, and leukotriene antagonists. Exercise-induced asthma may be suppressed with warm humidified air. This environment can be simulated by swimming in a heated pool or wearing a scarf over the nose and mouth in cold weather.

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