Exercise induced asthma test

What is an exercise induced asthma test?

An exercise induced asthma test involves some simple breathing tests and exercising on a treadmill to assess whether this causes your airways to become narrower.

Why do I need to have this test?

This test will help us understand if your airways become narrow in response to exercise. This will help us to provide advice on your ongoing treatment.

Who will perform my test?

The test will be performed by two respiratory physiologists. Respiratory physiologists are staff who have extensive training and knowledge in respiratory physiology and performing lung function tests.

What will happen during the test?

Before the test begins the physiologist will explain the test to you in detail and answer any questions that you have.

To begin with you will be asked to perform some breathing tests through a mouthpiece. You will then have ECG stickers attached to your chest to monitor your heart. You will then be asked to exercise on the treadmill for about six minutes. At particular time periods after you have finished exercising you will be asked to repeat the breathing test.

The whole test will last for approximately one hour. 

Important information

Please do not use your inhalers for one week prior to the appointment.

Salbutamol (Ventolin) and Bricanyl can be used up to 8 hours prior to the appointment.

Please stop taking the following medications prior to the test:

  • Sodium cromoglycate (8 hours)
  • Nedocromil (48 hours)
  • Theophyllines (12 to 48 hours)
  • Leukotrienes (24 hours)
  • Antihistamines (48 hours)

Take all other medication as normal and please bring a list of all medication with you.

  • Please do not smoke, consume alcohol, eat a heavy meal or perform heavy exercise within four hours of the test.
  • Please do not consume coffee, tea, cola drinks or chocolate on the day of the test.
  • Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes suitable for exercise.
  • Please do not wear nail varnish or false nails.

Thank you for your co-operation. This will assist us in obtaining accurate information and enable us to provide you with the most appropriate treatment.

Frequently asked questions

Will there be any discomfort or side effects of this test?

Sometimes the test can cause a mild spasm of the airways, which may make you cough or feel tight-chested. This is easily reversed by a common medication (Salbutamol) that is given routinely at the end of the test.

Is there a different test I could have?

There is no other basic test that would give us this information about the sensitivity of your airways.

When will I be told the results of my test?

The results will be sent to the professional that requested the test. They will then discuss the results with you at your next appointment.

© North Bristol NHS Trust. This edition published June 2024. Review due June 2027. NBT002877

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Exercise induced asthma test