Allergies and Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction in a Youth Academy and Reserve Professional Soccer Team

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Abstract

Objectives:

A high prevalence of respiratory allergies and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB) has been reported among endurance athletes. This study was designed to analyze the frequency of sensitization to respiratory allergens and EIB in young soccer players.

Design:

Prospective cohort design.

Setting:

Youth academy and reserve professional soccer team during the seasons 2012 to 2013 and 2013 to 2014.

Participants:

Eighty-five soccer players (mean age: 20 ± 4 years) participated.

Intervention:

Players underwent skin prick tests (SPTs) during the seasons 2012 to 2013 and 2013 to 2014. Spirometry and a eucapnic voluntary hyperpnea test were performed on soccer players during the first season 2012 to 2013 (n = 51) to detect EIB. Two self-administered questionnaires on respiratory history and allergic symptoms (European Community Respiratory Health Survey and Allergy Questionnaire for Athletes) were also distributed during both seasons (n = 59).

Main Outcome Measures:

The number of positive SPTs, exercise-induced respiratory symptoms, presence of asthma, airway obstruction, and EIB.

Results:

Forty-nine percent of players were sensitized to at least one respiratory allergen, 33% reported an allergic disease, 1 player presented airway obstruction at rest, and 16% presented EIB. Factors predictive of EIB were self-reported exercise-induced symptoms and sensitization to at least 5 allergens.

Conclusions:

Questioning players about exercise-induced respiratory symptoms and allergies as well as spirometry at the time of the inclusion medical checkup would improve management of respiratory health of soccer players and would constitute inexpensive preliminary screening to select players requiring indirect bronchial provocation test or SPTs.

Clinical relevance:

This study showed that despite low frequencies, EIB and allergies are underdiagnosed and undertreated in young soccer players.

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