BACKGROUND: Unlimited physical activity is one of the key issues of asthma control and management. We investigated how reliable reported exercise-related respiratory symptoms (ERRS) are in predicting exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) in asthmatic children.
METHODS: In this prospective study, 179 asthmatic children aged 7 - 15 years were asked for specific questions on respiratory symptoms related to exercise and allocated into two groups according to whether they complained about symptoms. Group I (n = 134) consisted of children answering "yes" to one or more of the questions and group II (n = 45) consisted of children answering "no" to all of the questions.
RESULTS: Sixty-four of 179 children showed a positive exercise challenge test (ECT). There was no difference in the frequency of a positive test between children in group I (n = 48) and group II (n = 12) (P = 0.47). The sensitivity of a positive report for ERRS to predict a positive ECT was only 37%, with a specificity of 0.72.
CONCLUSION: According to current guidelines, the report or lack of ERRS has direct consequences on treatment decisions. However, the history of ERRS did not predict EIB and one-third of asthmatic children without complaints of ERRS developed EIB during the ECT. This raises the question of the need for objective measures of bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) in pediatric asthma management.