Asthma more common in Olympic swimmers

Swimming Health Solutions Announced for CDC Sanitation Challenges

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chlorine and asthmaAsthma is more prevalent in Olympic swimmers than in other Olympic sports, and the prevalence of asthma in endurance swimmers is higher than in other aquatic sports, according to a new study.

The study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, included swimmers who competed at the 2005, 2007 and 2009 FINA World Championships and the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and found each year between 12 and 25 percent of swimmers had asthma. This prevalence of asthma in the endurance swimmers at the elite level demonstrates the need for “development of aquatic discipline–specific prevention, screening, and treatment regimens,” according to the study.

“It is exposure to the chlorine and chlorinated compounds that is responsible for the changes in airway hyper responsiveness,” Dr. Don McKenzie, who studies respiratory exercise physiology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, told Reuters Health.

Dr. McKenzie is referring to the disinfection byproducts created during the chlorine sanitation process. Previous studies have linked DBPs to asthma, allergies and bronchiolitis in children, among other health issues.

“Swimmers should be aware that if they have a chronic cough, shortness of breath, or wheezing, they should seek medical attention for appropriate testing and treatment. They should also ensure that their training environment has appropriate ventilation with respect to air quality,” study lead author Dr. Margo Mountjoy of McMaster University Waterloo, Ontario told Reuters.

The authors also caution that while asthma is higher in competitive swimmers, swimming is still a healthy sport with important health benefits.

Learn how to reduce chlorine by as much as 75 percent in your public pool.


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