Allergic rhinitis and asthma in the athlete

Allergy Asthma Proc. Mar-Apr 2006;27(2):104-9.


The pathogenesis, epidemiology, presentation, diagnosis, and management of allergic rhinitis and asthma in the recreational and elite athlete are discussed in this study. There is an increased prevalence of allergic rhinitis and asthma in the elite athlete related to the enhanced ventilation with entrainment of inhalants including allergens as well as irritants such as pollutants in the urban athlete, chlorine in the swimmer, and cold air in the hockey player in the training environment. The history as well as objective exercise challenge and skin-prick tests to inhalants or in vitro allergen testing are essential in conjunction with a comprehensive physical exam to diagnosis of allergic rhinitis and/or asthma in the athlete. This is particularly necessary for the elite or competitive athlete who often has poor insight into the symptoms. Management is with appropriate inhaled steroids and/or leukotriene antagonists for the upper (nasal) and lower airways with avoidance of inhaled allergens and/or appropriate immunotherapy where relevant. The optimal management of the athlete results in minimum medication with minimum adverse side effects and optimal outcome. Proper adherence to antidoping regulations and application for use exemption in competitive athletes is recommended. The athlete should be encouraged to pursue the selected sports activity without limitations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / epidemiology*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / physiopathology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Respiratory Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Sports*