n International SportMed Journal - Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction and the drugs used in its treatment : sports pharmacology

Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) is the transient narrowing of the airways that follows strenuous exercise. The prevalence of EIB varies from 4-20% in the general population, to 40-90% in otherwise asthmatic subjects. The initial mechanism inducing EIB is not completely understood but evidence supports an inflammatory process. Although a suspected diagnosis of EIB can be based on self-reported symptoms, an exercise challenge test is recommended to assess a positive functional response to exercise (a fall in FEV1). The primary aim of therapy for EIB is prophylactic. EIB may be prevented in the majority of patients by administering a short-acting β2-adrenergic agonist (salbutamol or terbutaline) or a cromone, either singly or in combination, immediately before exercise. Because the main limitation of these drugs is the short duration of their protective effect, extended periods of exercise require additional doses, or a long acting beta2-agonist (salmeterol or formoterol). Inhaled corticosteroids and antileukotriene drugs have demonstrated their effectiveness in preventing EIB and can be used for that purpose, especially in cases of patients exhibiting symptoms more than twice a week. Since individual variations in the response to these drugs are reported, tests with either modality of treatment could be useful before a definitive long-term therapy is chosen for each patient.

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