As we approach the Olympic Games in Beijing, China this week is time to take note if you find yourself "breathing heavy" during or after exercise.This may a sign of more than just good aerobic activity.Exercise-associated asthma can be the culprit; in many cases you may not realize you have this form of intermittent asthma.Symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing during or shortly after exercise are commonly seen.

In the past several Olympic Games up to one-fifth of athletes have a history of EIA (exercise induced asthma).It certainly does not keep these elite athletes sidelined. EIA may be triggered by "oversensitivity" to changing conditions including temperature, humidity as well as air quality, during the workout.

Strategies in dealing with EIA

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Hydrate with water before, during and after exercise

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Warm up with a decent stretch and light exercise

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Give yourself an adequate period for a "cool down" when done

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Control your allergies and asthma triggers (especially on high pollen count days)

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Check out the air quality index (pollution and ozone levels) before you exercise outdoors

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Pre-treat with inhaled medication as advised by your doctor (after your diagnosis is confirmed) to prevent symptoms

Additional info and tips on "exercise induced asthma" can be found at www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/exerciseinducedasthma.stm.

Dr. Clifford W. Bassettis an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.

Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist, and diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. He is the medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY.   Bassett is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, and faculty at Cornell University Medical College. Follow him on Twitter.