Can You Have Asthma And Still Be An Elite Athlete?

This review published in the European Respiratory Society’s June issue of Breathe aims to inform respiratory physicians of the relevant components of the World Anti-Doping Code and to indicate some of the pitfalls that can arise and how to negotiate them so as not to cause problems for their athlete patients with asthma.

People with asthma have generally been advised to undertake some form of physical activity to improve their health and fitness and although many asthma patients experience exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB), some have gone on to achieve great sporting success and become world and Olympic champions. In fact asthma and asthma/airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) are the most common medical conditions encountered among summer and winter Olympic athletes, affecting between 7%-8% of them.

The prevalence of asthma/AHR is principally identified in sports that require endurance training, including triathlon (25.7% of athletes at the Beijing 2008 games), cycling (17.3% at the Beijing 2008 games), cross country skiing (16.9% at the Torino 2006 games) and speed skating (14.9% at the Torino 2006 games).

Swimmers had one of the highest prevalence of inhaled β2-agonist (IBA) use at the five Summer Olympic Games from 1996 to 2008.

The review therefore suggests that it seems a reasonable proposition that asthma/AHR may be an occupational hazard for many endurance trained athletes and “we should be devoting more attention endeavouring to prevent or reduce this outcome.”

POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) offers athletes with asthma a drug-free, clinically-proven method of reducing their symptoms and putting them in control of their asthma.

In this research published in Chest, Inspiratory muscle training in patients with bronchial asthma, long-term inspiratory muscle training was shown to reduce absence from school/work (by ~95%); reduce use of healthcare resources (by ~75%); and reduce the consumption of medication (by ~79%). In addition to helping athletes reduce their asthma symptoms, POWERbreathe IMT has been shown to improve sports performance by increasing breathing strength and stamina and reducing whole body effort and fatigue.