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My Chest Hurts When Breathing After a Workout

by
author image J.M. Andrews
J.M. Andrews has been a professional journalist for more than 20 years. She specializes in health and medical content for consumers and health professionals. Andrews' background in medicine and science has earned her credits in a wide range of online and print publications, including "Young Physicians" magazine.
My Chest Hurts When Breathing After a Workout
Burning or pain in your chest when you breathe after a workout could signal exercise-induced asthma. Photo Credit Paul Sutherland/Photodisc/Getty Images

If you have any type of unusual chest pain, especially following a workout, you should see your physician to rule out a heart attack or other conditions related to coronary artery disease, such as angina. If your doctor rules out heart problems as the source of your chest discomfort post-workout, you and he should explore other options. Although it's possible that you have a gastrointestinal issue such as heartburn that's causing your chest to hurt when you breathe, it's more likely that you suffer from a condition called exercise-induced asthma. In any case, never ignore chest pain, always seek medical help.

Exercise-Induced Asthma

Asthma causes your airways to swell up, producing excess mucus and making it difficult for you to breathe, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. People with exercise-induced asthma find that exercise triggers their asthma symptoms. You're more likely to have problems with exercise-induced asthma in cold, dry conditions, since air that's close to freezing and which carries very little water can irritate your airway.

Symptoms

If you have exercise-induced asthma, you'll find your symptoms appear within about 15 to 30 minutes of the start of your workout, and potentially more quickly if the air is very dry and cold. Your chest may hurt or burn when you take a breath, and you may find it's difficult or impossible for you to breathe deeply. You may sound "wheezy" when you breathe, and you could find that you cough frequently. Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma can linger for several hours following a workout.

Treatment

If your physician tells you that you suffer from exercise-induced asthma, it doesn't mean you need to quit working out. In fact, exercise can help all asthmatics stay healthy, including those whose symptoms are triggered by exercise itself, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. Following some diagnostic tests, your physician may prescribe an inhaler for you to use about 15 minutes before you exercise. Inhalers can prevent symptoms from occurring for approximately four hours after you use them.

Self-Management

You may find you can manage the symptoms of exercise-induced asthma yourself, without the need for medication in many instances, according to the University of New Mexico. If you know that working out during the winter in low-humidity conditions makes your chest hurt, you might want to consider joining a health club so that you can exercise indoors. In addition, if you want to continue exercising outside, some people find that it helps to breathe through a thick scarf, since that helps to warm and moisten the air before it hits your lungs.

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