Airway dysfunction is prevalent in elite endurance athletes and when left untreated may impact upon both health and performance. There is now concern that the intensity of hyperpnoea necessitated by exercise at an elite level may be detrimental for an athlete's respiratory health. This article addresses the evidence of causality in this context with the aim of specifically addressing whether airway dysfunction in elite athletes should be classified as an occupational lung disease. The approach used highlights a number of concerns and facilitates recommendations to ensure airway health is maintained and optimized in this population. We conclude that elite athletes should receive the same considerations for their airway health as others with potential and relevant occupational exposures.
Keywords: airway hyper-responsiveness; asthma; athlete; exercise-induced bronchoconstriction; occupational lung disease.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.