Asthma is common in elite athletes, but our knowledge of asthma in elite canoe and kayak athletes is limited. The aim of the present prospective cross-sectional study was therefore to investigate the prevalence of asthma, including asthma-like symptoms, exhaled nitric oxide, and airway reactivity to mannitol in Danish elite canoe and kayak athletes
The study group consisted of 29 (of 33 eligible) elite athletes aged 17-43 years, and the examination programme consisted of questionnaires, including the Asthma Control Questionnaire, fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FENO), spirometry and airway reactivity to mannitol. Asthma was defined as a history of doctor-diagnosed asthma and/or elevated FENO and airway reactivity.
Seven of the elite athletes (24.1%) were found to have asthma, including four subjects with previously doctor-diagnosed asthma. Of the four athletes (all treated with inhaled corticosteroids) with doctor-diagnosed asthma, all reported asthma-symptoms and two had elevated FENO, but none had airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to mannitol. All three athletes with previously undiagnosed asthma had elevated FENO and AHR to mannitol, but reported no asthma-like symptoms.
Asthma is common in elite canoe and kayak athletes, and classical signs of asthmatic airway inflammation are also found in asymptomatic athletes.