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Exercise induced asthma test

Patient information A-Z

Lung function test equipment; an exercise bike being used by a person for assessing exercise induced asthma.
Lung function test equipment

About the exercise induced asthma test

What is an exercise induced asthma test?

The test will involve exercising on either a bike or a treadmill to assess any symptoms experienced during exercise. The aim is to assess if and by how much the airways narrow by monitoring the response through a breathing test ('spirometry').

Why am I having an exercise induced asthma test?

An exercise induced asthma test is designed to investigate whether any symptoms experienced during the performance of exercise are related to narrowing of the lung airways.

What does an exercise induced asthma test involve?

After performing spirometry (see the spirometry information leaflet, document ID 102413) to assess the airflow through your airways, you will be fitted with a device that monitors your oxygen and heart rate. You will then be asked to perform up to eight minutes of exercise on either a bike or a treadmill at a set pace. The temperature in the room may be lowered, and you will be asked to wear a nose peg during exercise. The physiologist will aim to keep your heart rate close to 80% of your maximum for the duration of the exercise. The breathing test will then be repeated at set intervals for 20 minutes. Inhaled medication will be given to return you to baseline, and a final breathing test performed to ensure everything is back to normal.

About your appointment


  • Please do not take inhaled medication as directed in your appointment letter, please contact the department if you are unsure or have any concerns.
  • The test will last approximately 90 minutes.

If you cannot attend your appointment

If you need to rearrange your appointment, or no longer need an appointment, please call us on 01223 217065 at the earliest opportunity. Reallocating appointments helps us to reduce waiting times.

What if I am unwell prior to the appointment?

Please call us on 01223 217065 if you:

  • have had a recent chest infection, or
  • are currently on a course of antibiotics, or
  • have just finished a course of antibiotics for your chest

It may be inappropriate to perform the test at this time and your appointment may be rescheduled.

If you are unwell, please inform us at the earliest opportunity. If you are unwell on the day of the appointment, please still call and let us know as this will allow us to rearrange your appointment for a more suitable time.

Who will be present at my appointment?

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (CUH) is a teaching hospital and so there may be occasions when a student or staff member accompanies your physiologist. We will, however, always seek your permission first.


You will be asked for consent to perform tests during your appointment. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions before you give consent. In the unlikely event there are risks related to the test, these will be discussed with you before the test starts.

Test results

After your appointment, your test results will be sent to your referring consultant, who will then contact you to discuss the results and the next steps in your treatment.


There are some risks associated with all tests and medications. In some individuals, performing exercise may cause increased coughing during the test. If your airways are sensitive, the exercise may cause them to narrow. This may result in you feeling more wheezy, out of breath or tight chested than when you started the test. The relief inhaler at the end of the test should help to resolve these issues.

Due to the nature of the tests and the exertion required, some patients may feel dizzy or faint during testing. Serious complications are rare and risks will be kept to a minimum by your physiologist.

Potential but rare complications

  • Airway narrowing in those with sensitive airways.
  • Heart attack in patients with previous cardiac disease.
  • Sudden changes in blood pressure.
  • Stroke.
  • Collapsed lung.
  • Retinal detachment.

These complications are very rare; you will be questioned by your physiologist prior to the test to determine whether you are at increased risk.

Contacts/ Further information

If you are unclear about any of the information provided in this leaflet or have any other questions then please do not hesitate to contact the Lung Function Department at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on 01223 217065 or Clinic 2A on 01223 216645.

Our opening hours are Monday to Friday from 08:30 to 16:30.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151