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Prevalence of Allergy and Asthma Symptoms in Recreational Roadrunners


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 12 - p 2053-2057
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000235357.31932.43
CLINICAL SCIENCES: Clinical Investigations

Purpose: The prevalence of allergy and asthma symptoms and asthma medication use, which has been extensively studied in elite athletes, has received little attention in recreational roadrunners.

Methods: A validated questionnaire was used to determine the prevalence of allergy and asthma symptoms, the use of medication, and allergy specialty attention among recreational roadrunners. Comparison with the published prevalence of allergy and asthma symptoms in Olympic athletes was made.

Results: The prevalence of allergy and asthma symptoms were similar in two consecutive yearly surveys (2003, 2004). The response from 2004 was 11% (484 of 4398 runners). The study population was 60% male, 56% Caucasian, 10% non-Caucasian, and 34% undesignated. Subjects competed for 13.2 ± 10.5 yr. Prevalence was 44% for symptoms of allergy, 31% for asthma, and 21% for both. Of those reporting allergy symptoms alone, 0.5% had prescription medications or medication before the race. Those with asthma and allergy or asthma alone were more likely to have prescription medication (allergy and asthma, 32%, P = 0.0001; asthma, 6%, P = 0.001), to take medication before the race (asthma and allergy, 27%, P = 0.0001; asthma, 5%, P = 0.007), or to seek specialty attention and medication (asthma and allergy, 39%, P = 0.0001; asthma, 7%, P = 0.004) than those with allergy symptoms alone. The comparison with results from a survey of Olympic athletes indicates that symptoms of allergy and asthma were more prevalent in recreational athletes (P = 0.0001 to 0.007), but roadrunners were less likely to be taking prescription medication (P = 0.025).

Conclusion: These results suggest that the recreational roadrunner is more likely to report symptoms of allergy and/or asthma but less likely to have prescription medication than the Olympic athlete.

1Center for Allergy, Asthma, Immunology, Waterbury, CT; 2Dept Information Services, Waterbury Hospital, Waterbury, CT; and 3Marywood University, Scranton, PA

Address for correspondence: Kenneth W. Rundell, Ph.D., Human Performance Laboratory, Center for Healthy Families, Marywood University, Scranton, PA 18509; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2006.

Accepted for publication June 2006.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine