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Incidence of exercise-induced bronchospasm in Olympic winter sport athletes

WILBER, RANDALL L.; RUNDELL, KENNETH W.; SZMEDRA, LEON; JENKINSON, DAVID M.; IM, JOOHEE; DRAKE, SEAN D.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 732-737
Clinical Sciences: Clinically Relevant

WILBER, R. L., K. W. RUNDELL, L. SZMEDRA, D. M. JENKINSON, J. IM, and S. D. DRAKE. Incidence of exercise-induced bronchospasm in Olympic winter sport athletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 732–737, 2000.

Purpose: The purpose of this project was to determine the incidence of exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) among U.S. Olympic winter sport athletes.

Methods: Subjects included female and male members of the 1998 U.S. Winter Olympic Team from the following sports: biathlon, cross-country ski, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, long-track speedskating, and short-track speedskating. Assessment of EIB was conducted in conjunction with an “actual competition” (Olympic Trials, World Team Trials, World Cup Event, U.S. National Championships) or a “simulated competition” (time trial, game), which served as the exercise challenge. Standard spirometry tests were performed preexercise and at 5, 10, and 15 min postexercise. An athlete was considered EIB-positive based on a postexercise decrement in FEV1 ≥ 10%.

Results: For the seven sports evaluated on the 1998 U.S. Winter Olympic Team, the overall incidence of EIB across all sports and genders was 23%. The highest incidence of EIB was found in cross-country skiers, where 50% of the athletes (female = 57%; male = 43%) were diagnosed with EIB. Across the seven sports evaluated, the prevalence of EIB among the female and male athletes was 26% and 18%, respectively. Among those individuals found to be EIB-positive were athletes who won a team gold medal, one individual silver medal, and one individual bronze medal at the Nagano Winter Olympics.

Conclusions: These data suggest that: 1) EIB is prevalent in several Olympic winter sports and affects nearly one of every four elite winter sport athletes; 2) the winter sport with the highest incidence of EIB is cross-country skiing; 3) in general, EIB is more prevalent in female versus male elite winter sport athletes; and 4) athletes may compete successfully at the international level despite having EIB.

United States Olympic Committee, Sport Science and Technology Division, Colorado Springs, CO and Lake Placid, NY

Submitted for publication May 1999.

Accepted for publication June 1999.

Address for correspondence: Randall L. Wilber, Ph.D., USOC-Sport Science and Technology Division, One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909. E-mail: randywilber@usoc.org.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.