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Patient Care

Asthma in Athletes


lacrosse playersThe OSU Asthma Center offers a specialized, clinical program devoted to the unique care and individual needs of competitive or recreational athletes with asthma. 

Who runs the Asthma in Athletes program?
The program is run by John Mastronarde, MD, Jonathan Parsons, MD, and Cathy Benninger, RN, CNP: a team of experts with extensive experience in the field of asthma and exercise-  the same team that takes care of the Ohio State University Buckeyes! 

Department of OSU Sports Medicine: http://sportsmedicine.osu.edu/OurTeam/AffPhysicians.htm

Why do we offer such a program?
Because breathing problems during exercise are extremely common About 80% of people with chronic asthma will experience exercise-induced bronchospasm or EIB. EIB is a disorder that causes breathing problems during or after exercise. It is caused by narrowing of the breathing tubes that is provoked by exercise.

Breathing symptoms can be mild or severe and start during or right after exercise. The most common symptoms are:

• Wheezing 

• Coughing

• Shortness of breath

• Chest tightness 

• Fatigue   

• Poor exercise performance

About 10% of the general population without asthma will have EIB. Competitive and recreational athletes have a much higher rate of EIB. In studies of Olympic and other elite athletes, EIB occurred 20%-50% of the time in athletes without asthma. Many of these athletes did not even know they had EIB. 

What types of athletes are cared for by the Asthma in Athletes program?
The same services that we provide to the Buckeyes are available to all athletes-  recreational or competitive. We welcome athletes of all ages and levels of competition.

What services does the program offer?
The initial visit to the Asthma in Athletes program will include a comprehensive history and physical examination and determination/scheduling of appropriate diagnostic testing based on the needs of each individual athlete which may include specialized pulmonary function testing, electrocardiography, echocardiography, allergy testing, or evaluation for vocal cord dysfunction.

At Visit 2, results of diagnostic testing will be reviewed and a treatment plan will be developed.

At Visit 3, response to treatment will be evaluated and need for future visits will be determined.evh demonstration

We offer Eucapnic Voluntary Hyperventilation (EVH) testing – a rapid breathing test used to diagnose exercise-induced asthma. The OSU Asthma Center is the only center in central Ohio that offers EVH testing, the International Olympic Committee’s preferred test for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma. (EVH demo video)

We also provide access to our multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers that specialize in fields of medicine that include allergy, otolaryngology, sports medicine, and sports psychology. Based on our clinical evaluation, we offer an individualized treatment plan and education tailored to the specific needs of each athlete. We can also communicate treatment plans with their coaching staff, athletic trainers, or other providers if requested.

Related links:
World Anti-Doping Agency statement on Asthma
United States Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee