National Athletic Trainers' Association position statement: management of asthma in athletes

J Athl Train. 2005 Jul-Sep;40(3):224-45.


Objective: To present guidelines for the recognition, prophylaxis, and management of asthma that lead to improvement in the quality of care certified athletic trainers and other heath care providers can offer to athletes with asthma, especially exercise-induced asthma.

Background: Many athletes have difficulty breathing during or after athletic events and practices. Although a wide variety of conditions can predispose an athlete to breathing difficulties, the most common cause is undiagnosed or uncontrolled asthma. At least 15% to 25% of athletes may have signs and symptoms suggestive of asthma, including exercise-induced asthma. Athletic trainers are in a unique position to recognize breathing difficulties caused by undiagnosed or uncontrolled asthma, particularly when asthma follows exercise. Once the diagnosis of asthma is made, the athletic trainer should play a pivotal role in supervising therapies to prevent and control asthma symptoms. It is also important for the athletic trainer to recognize when asthma is not the underlying cause for respiratory difficulties, so that the athlete can be evaluated and treated properly.

Recommendations: The recommendations contained in this position statement describe a structured approach for the diagnosis and management of asthma in an exercising population. Athletic trainers should be educated to recognize asthma symptoms in order to identify patients who might benefit from better management and should understand the management of asthma, especially exercise-induced asthma, to participate as active members of the asthma care team.