Summary Exercise-induced asthma (EIA) is a general concern for growing children and adolescents with asthma. One main objective in the treatment of asthma during childhood, according to most international and national guidelines, is to master EIA. Additionally, among athletes, and especially elite athletes, EIA and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) are major problems, interfering with the performance of sports and representing a health risk. Athletes, as well as ordinary patients, need an optimal diagnosis and treatment of their asthma. This was shown by Becker et al. , who reported deaths linked to athletic performance over a 7-year period in the USA. Out of 263 deaths, 61 were asthma related, and 51% of the deaths were related to organised sports events. Only one of the 61 athletes who died used inhaled steroids . This underlines the need for optimal asthma treatment among competitive athletes.
Due to concern about reports of frequent use of inhaled β2-agonists, the Medical Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC-MC) introduced restrictions in the use of these drugs in relationship to sport in 1993. These rules have been altered several times, with the introduction of applications and approvals for international athletes to be able to use such drugs. Among pulmonologists and allergologists, these rules were felt to be very restrictive, and a joint Task Force was set up by the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI). This Task Force recently produced three reports [2–4]. The present article focuses on the problems raised by this report, as well as outlining a pan-European study focusing on asthma and BHR in top athletes.
- ©ERS 2008