“If athletes with asthma can compete in London Olympics, there is no reason you have to restrict what you want to do despite having asthma” says Dr. Atul N. Shah, the board certified allergy and asthma specialist and a bestselling author of Allergies, and Awesome You. Those with asthma have over responsive small airways that go into spasm due to some triggers. When the airway diameter becomes narrow, it triggers cough, wheezing, shortness of breath and feeling of chest pressure or tightness. In majority of these asthma patients, this airway narrowing is reversible and right medication will help.
Based on a study by the University of Western Australia, around 8% of Olympic athletes have asthma and airway hyper-responsiveness. The author identified athletes with asthma and airway hyper-responsiveness among athletes of the last five Olympic games -from 2002 to 2010- who used inhaled bronchodilator, a drug used to relive spasm by those with asthma.
It was also observed that the athletes with asthma fair better in competition than non-asthmatic athletes. We do not know way. May be they are training harder to overcome asthma or there might be some body mechanism related to presence of asthma that stimulates performance, due to renewed ability to perform with compromised airways.
Some of these athletes have chronic asthma that require daily controller medications while others need only bronchodilator inhaler, prior to exertion or when symptomatic. The asthma specialists determine the type of medications needed based on symptoms, triggers and lung function tests.
Every single athlete participating in Olympics deserves standing ovation and they are very inspiring to all of us for their commitment level and the ability to persist despite challenges. Those with asthma deserve even more applaud as they are showing to every one of you with asthma that if asthma is well controlled, there is nothing that can stop you. If they can play at this level in sports and competition despite their condition, so can you. They also bring a point across- you don’t have to give up on being an athlete.
“Allergies play a significant role in triggering asthma symptoms. It is a known fact that 80% of asthma patients have underlying allergies and if we can control and manage allergies, the asthma improves by itself.” says Dr. Shah.
He recommends that if you have asthma or someone you know has asthma that is affecting their quality of life or limiting their potential, it is time to do something about it. Allergists are also asthma specialists and can help you live great life, despite having asthma.
About the Author:
Atul N. Shah, MD, FACAAI, FAAAAI, is a board certified allergist and the bestselling author of the children’s book, Allergies, and Awesome You. He is also a medical director of www.Center4AsthmaAllergy.com and the founder of the educational website www.AmazingAllergist.com. He has earned an honor of fellowships in both the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. He has personally treated more than 20,000 patients, made a significant impact on more than 100,000 lives as an allergist and earned the nickname “AmazingAllergist” from his patients and peers. He has been recognized with various awards, including the America’s Top Physicians’ Award, the Patients’ Choice Award, and the Most Compassionate Physicians’ Award. He believes that every allergic child and individual has a potential to live a great life, allergy-free.