Quarter of Team GB Suffer Exercise-Induced Asthma (EIA)

It's 2012 and the year of the London Olympics. The London Evening Standard reports that 25% of Team GB is suffering from exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Such athletes include swimmers Rebecca Adlington and Jo Jackson, as well as, Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins. Also, marathon runner Paula Radcliffe and footballer Craig Bellamy. And defending Olympic rowing champions Pete Reed and Tom James experience symptoms of EIA too.

Can asthma sufferers exercise?

Well, yes. Asthma UK recommend people with asthma participate in exercise. This is because it improves lung function and can help you manage your symptoms.

EIA is high among elite athletes

It seems endurance sports, such as long-distance running, cross-country skiing and cycling are the most likely activities to cause problems for people with exercise-induced asthma and inspiratory stridor. A high-pitched, wheezing sound when breathing-in is indicative of inspiratory stridor.

A case study of inspiratory stridor

A Case Report in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looks at Inspiratory Muscle Training: a simple cost-effective treatment for inspiratory stridor. It describes the support given to a British elite athlete in the build-up to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The athlete had been complaining of breathing symptoms during high intensity training. Because of this they couldn't manage to complete their training sessions. Consequently, they experienced a reduction in performance. The athlete then undertook a gold-standard test for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma (EIA). The EVH challenge is a 6-min test during which the athlete breathes a cold, dry gas at very high ventilation rates. After the test their airway function is compared against normal resting airway function.

Following consultation with a sports physician and physiologist, a diagnosis of inspiratory stridor was given. The advice was to implement a course of inspiratory muscle training (IMT).

Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) as a treatment

The course of IMT used a POWERbreathe device and required 30 loaded breaths, twice daily, five times per week for 11 weeks.

The athlete reported a sudden fall in symptoms and was able to complete high intensity training without symptoms. This case shows that IMT is a suitable cost-effective intervention for athletes who present with inspiratory stridor.

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