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Cold air challenge

Your child is scheduled for a cold air challenge at:

Children's - Minneapolis
Special Diagnostics – 1st floor
2525 Chicago Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Phone: 612-813-6966

Date: ____________________________________

Test time: ____________________________________

Check-in time: ____________________________________

Please bring a list of your child's medicines, your insurance card and picture ID with you. If you have questions about your insurance coverage for these services, or any special referral requirements, please contact your insurance company directly. They will advise you about your plan's coverage.

What is a cold air challenge?

A cold air challenge is a type of breathing test that can help the doctor decide if your child has asthma or exercise-induced asthma (EIA). It is a painless, safe test.

Can I be with my child during the test?

In most cases the parents do not stay in the room during testing. It has been found that most children can perform the test better when done one-on-one with the technician.

What should we do before the tests?

Read and talk about this information with your child. Tell your child that the test does not hurt. Explain how the test is done and what your child will see, hear, and feel. Answer as many questions as you can.

Your child should not exercise or be around cigarette smoke for at least 2 hours before the test.

Your child's medicines will be reviewed with you when you schedule the test. If your child is taking medicines for breathing, they must be stopped as directed or they can interfere with the test. Please refer to the chart below.

Call pulmonary diagnostics to reschedule the test if your child:

  • had a cold within 3 weeks of the test.
  • has trouble breathing on the day of the test (do give the prescribed medicines).

How is the test done?

The technician will teach your child a few different ways of breathing. First, your child's baseline lung function will be tested. During this part your child will blow into a tube, using effort as if blowing out birthday candles.

Next your child will breathe cold air through a special breathing circuit using a mouthpiece similar to what a scuba diver uses. The air will not feel cold on your child's throat or mouth.

After breathing in the cold air your child will repeat the first set of breathing tests to check for a change with the cold air.

Your child will then be given a bronchodilator (medicine that helps open the small airways in the lungs). This medicine is given either as an inhaler or a nebulizer treatment. Some children may notice a faster heart rate for a short time after taking the medicine.

The technician will then have your child repeat the first breathing test to check for any change with the medicine.

What can I expect after the test?

After the test, your child can take the prescribed medicines again. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you.


This sheet is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call Pulmonary Diagnostics at 612-813-6966.

Stopping medicines before the cold air challenge

If your child is taking this medicine Stop giving it this long before the test

quick-acting bronchodilators, such as:

  • albuterol (Proventil®, Ventolin®, Pro Air)
  • levalbuterol (Xopenex®)
  • pirbuterol (Maxair®)
  • terbutaline (Brethair, Brethine®)
at least 8 hours

long-acting bronchodilators, such as:

  • albuterol (Proventil® Repetabs, Volmax®)
  • fomoterol (Foradil®)
  • salmeterol (Serevent®)
  • fluticisone / salmeterol products (Advair®)
  • budesonide / formoterol products (Symbicort®)
24 hours

inhaled corticosteroids, such as:

  • beclomethasone (QVAR®)
  • budesonide (Pulmicort®)
  • fluticisone (Flovent®)
  • mometasone (Azmanex®)
  • triamcinolone (Azmacort®)
24 hours
  • cromolyn sodium (Intal®)
48 hours

antihistamines, such as:

  • cetirizine (Zytrec®)
  • fexofenadine (Allegra®)
  • loratadine (Claritin®)
24 hours
  • theophylline (many brands)
12 hours
  • extended release theophylline
48 hours
  • ipratoprium bromide (Atrovent®)
  • ipratoprium/albuterol (Combivent®)
24 hours
  • montelukast (Singulair®)
  • zafirlukast (Accolate®)
  • zileuton (Zyflo®)
24 hours

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Patient/Family Education
2525 Chicago Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55404
Last reviewed 8/2015 ©Copyright

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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