Asthma doesn't preclude success, as gold medal winning runner Liz McColgan explains in this 15-munute video. BMJ looks at why this condition is so common in Olympic teams and how it is diagnosed and treated in athletes:
Asthma symptoms are strikingly common in elite athletes and have gradually risen at almost every Olympics since the 1970s. In 2004 almost 21% of "Team Great Britain" had asthma compared with 8% of the British population.
A belief that inhaled asthma drugs (known as beta-2-agonists) could enhance performance led to suspicions that some athletes might be declaring themselves asthmatic in order to take the drugs. But studies have found no evidence that inhaled asthma drugs improve performance.
A 2011 study showed that asthmatic athletes have consistently outperformed healthy athletes at every Olympic Games since 2000. So how do they manage to perform so well, despite their obvious handicap?
Most elite athletes with asthma have a detailed understanding of their condition and how best to control it while still training hard. Exercise in most people with asthma enhances their lung function and improves their quality of life.
Mild exercise should be recommended to asthmatics as part of their symptom management program.
Exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) (click to enlarge the image):
ATS practice guideline: exercise-induced bronchoconstriction:
Exercise-induced dyspnea differential diagnosis includes exercise-induced vocal cord dysfunction (EIVCD), exercise-induced laryngomalacia (EIL) and more (http://buff.ly/1jzVPHS).
Many athletes with asthma may be using the wrong treatment - BMJ, 2012.
Exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB)
An official American Thoracic Society clinical practice guideline: exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2013 May 1;187(9):1016-27. doi: 10.1164/rccm.201303-0437ST.