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Many top athletes 'suffer some form of asthma'

06 January 2015 09:29

Asthma shouldn't stop young people from being active, according to one expert

Asthma shouldn't stop young people from being active, according to one expert

Young people shouldn't let respiratory conditions such as asthma hamper their sporting ambitions, according to a report from a British university.

A study by John Dickinson from Kent University found that more top athletes than once thought suffer from some form of asthma. While there are high profile examples of elite sportsmen and women having asthma, Dickinson's research shows that many more suffer from the condition.

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Long distance runner Paula Radcliffe and former Manchester United and England midfielder Paul Scholes both forged successful careers despite suffering from asthma. But Dickinson's research found swimmers and cyclists also have some form of the condition.

Dickinson tested 33 UK-based swimmers from the British Swimming squad and discovered that 70% have some form of asthma. He also examined cyclists from the Team Sky cycling team and found about a third suffered from a form of the condition.

It is thought about one in ten people suffer from asthma across the nation. The condition, which normally begins in childhood, is controlled by an inhaler, which relieves tight airways and aids normal breathing.

Dickinson, head of the respiratory clinic at Kent's School of Sport and Exercise Science, found that while some of the athletes tested have so-called classic asthma, others have exercise-induced asthma, or EIA. Now athletes are able to use common bronchio-dilating inhalers so long as it is within a certain dosage level.

However Dickinson, speaking to the Guardian, says his research shows asthmatics shouldn't be put off doing sport.

Many parents are reluctant to allow their child to do sport if they are asthmatic, according to experts at Asthma UK. However they say the right type of exercise can offer benefits to children with asthma. For example, swimming is good for asthmatics because it requires a certain breathing rhythm.