oa Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology - Respiratory tract symptoms in endurance athletes - a review of causes and consequences

Volume 23, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-3607



It is well established that medical conditions can be associated with endurance physical activities and that respiratory tract symptoms (RTS) is one of the more common medical conditions that is encountered in these athletes. RTS are particularly during intense training and immediately after competition. There are many studies documenting that alterations in immune parameters occur in athletes undergoing intense training and competition. It is a common assumption that RTS in endurance athletes are as a result of infections during periods where there are known alterations in immune parameters. However, there are no studies directly linking alterations in immune parameters in response to training and documented evidence of infections in athletes. Allergic conditions, in particular allergic rhinitis, are also common in endurance athletes, and there is some overlap in the symptomatology of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) and allergic rhinitis. Chronic allergic rhinitis may also predispose to the development of URTI. The infective hypothesis, the allergic hypothesis and alternate hypotheses to explain the high prevalence of RTS in endurance athletes require further investigation. Current clinical guidelines for the management of RTS in athletes are mainly based on the assumption that RTS in athletes are only as a result of an infective cause. If other causes for RTS in athletes are documented, these guidelines may require modification.

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