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Elite skiers often suffer from respiratory problems |

Elite skiers often suffer from respiratory problems |

More than one in four National Athletic High School skaters have asthma, which is significantly more than others of the same age. A large percentage of elite skiers also suffer from another respiratory condition, according to research from Umeå University.

Symptoms often first appear before or in the early teens. A large percentage of elite skiers also have another respiratory condition, a transient exertion-induced obstruction at the laryngeal level, Eilo, which causes similar problems.

Inhaling large amounts of dry, cold air is likely to contribute to asthma in these athletes. Properly diagnosed and treated asthma doesn’t have to be an obstacle to exercise, even at an elite level. But because Eilo causes similar problems to asthma and is so common, it’s important to critically evaluate the easy breathing problems and treatment effect to avoid overuse of medication, says Tommy Iriwal, a doctoral student at Umeå University and physician at the Children’s Clinic in Östersund.

Asthma common among skiers

Tommie Irewall and the research group of which he is a part have investigated asthma and stress-induced upper airway obstruction among elite fitness athletes. Eilo means that airflow in the larynx is obstructed during intense exertion and can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath and car noises when breathing. Eilo can easily be confused with exercise-induced asthma because the symptoms are similar.

It turns out that 27 percent of national athletic high school skaters had a medical diagnosis of asthma, when they had to answer a questionnaire. The common age of onset for asthma was twelve years. In addition, the incidence of new asthma was high among elite guides and especially elite skiers when they were followed by a five-year annual survey.

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Elite skaters also had Elio

When elite skaters were clinically examined at the hospital, 27 percent of skaters were found to have laryngeal obstruction caused by the Elo effort. Among the elite skiers treated for asthma, 29 percent also had aelo.

The findings suggest that one should consider screening skiers for both asthma and Eilo if they have exercise-related breathing problems, says Tommie Irewall.

A total of 591 skiers and hikers participated in the survey to map asthma incidence and new onset of asthma. The clinical study that examined the presence of Elo included 89 skaters. [/textblock]


Tommie Irewall, PhD student at the University of Umeå and ST doctor at the Children’s Clinic of Östersund Hospital, [email protected]


Prevalence, incidence and risk factors of asthma and exertional laryngeal obstruction among elite fitness athletes.