Various conditions can cause people to have difficulty breathing during and after exercise. Standard lung function testing can show whether asthma is the cause, and in some cases, an asthma inhaler can be used to relieve symptoms. However, when the lung tests are normal and the response to asthma inhalers is inadequate, most allergy offices are not well equipped to investigate further. At the Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Center, we have a treadmill facility for patients to exercise in a controlled environment in order to bring out their symptoms, at which time we re‐test lung function to determine exactly what is going on and what to do about it.

Sometimes exercise challenges show that the problem is in fact due to asthma, and we simply need to try harder to treat it. Other times, we see that there is no change in lung function during or after exercise, so we know that the asthma medications that have been tried didn’t work because there is another problem altogether. Once we know that exercise‐induced asthma is not the problem, we can start working on other types of treatment to get the relief you need.

In performance athletes or anyone else interested in maximizing their exercise performance, an exercise challenge can tell us if we can get more benefit by treating the asthma more aggressively. If we still see some breathing problems despite the treatments currently being used initially, we can explain additional treatment options that might be helpful.