Junior Member News - August 2016

Athletes and Allergies: Towards 2016 Olympic Games

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro approach, both the general public and health care professionals are gaining interest in the potential health implications of sport. When asthma and allergy are present in athletes, this may affect their performance and achievements and justify the special attention of health care professionals who specialize in taking care of top athletes.

Asthma is increasingly common among the top athletes of several different types of sport. Traditionally this has been reported mainly in athletes competing in cold climates, and in swimmers, but also among endurance athletes in summer sports. In a recent study including Italian Olympic athletes followed between 2000 and 2012 before the Summer and Winter Olympics, the prevalence of asthma and/or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction was 14.7%, with a significant increase from 2000 (11.3%) to 2008 (17.2%). The prevalence of rhinitis, conjunctivitis, skin allergic diseases and anaphylaxis was high and sensitization to inhalant allergens was documented in 49.0% of athletes, being 32.7% in 2000 and 56.5% in 2008. Such results increased awareness of these problems that should be highlighted for all practicing allergists.

Among elite athletes, asthma has become a major problem with regard to the correct diagnosis and to treatment. Treating asthma in top athletes might seem a trivial matter but it is actually tricky, given that athletes usually master physical performance better than most of us. And athletes need an optimal diagnosis and treatment for their asthma so that it does not preclude their sport performance. The issue of treatment is also of significance because of questions related to doping.

Many asthmatic elite athletes with optimal asthma treatment are able to participate on an equal level with their peers in the Olympic Games and in other top level international competitions and it has been observed that asthmatic athletes even succeeded to win more medals than other athletes! So, problems related to sport should be of interest to most allergists/pulmonologists and their patients.

Finally, as December is fast approaching, I would like to advertise all WAO Junior Members that online registration to WISC 2016 and late-breaking abstract submission are now open! I would recommend all WAO Junior Members to interact and become actively involved in WAO JM activities. We strongly encourage junior members to visit our Twitter account (@WAOJM) and get access to news from the groups, photos from meetings and further resources.


Mariana Couto
WAO Junior Members Group Steering Committee