Asthma UK has taken the opportunity provided by the London Olympics 2012 to highlight the fact that a very large proportion of the Team GB have asthma - including the biggest and most highly achieving stars such as the first British Tour de France winner and the holder of six Olympic medals (3 gold) Bradley Wiggins and dual Olympic Champion swimmer Rebecca Adlington.
Bradley is quoted as saying:
'It's only a hindrance if you make it one - it does sound quite bad if you are diagnosed with asthma and your natural instinct is to think that's it. But there is better medicine available now and I am an Olympic champion - the evidence is out there that you can succeed.'It is certainly encouraging that if managed properly people suffering from many types of asthma can lead highly active lives, even as world class athletes.
It is also worth noting that some people living with asthma suffer from severe forms of asthma that are highly prone to serious attacks of breathing difficulty, and that 1200 die every year from asthma. How can some people suffer so much when others lead full lives?
There are some hints in the Asthma UK article as it points out air pollutants can aggravate asthma for many people and adversely affect the performance of athletes - it is certainly encouraging that despite that possibility many attain the highest status in their sports, even those that spend long hours on roads where pollution might be expected to be higher than the average!
There are also studies that strongly hint that there is a role played out by Aspergillus and some other fungi in making asthma more severe. Treatment with antifungal medication may improve symptoms and can improve the quality of life for many patients - we do not know if any of our athletes are prone to severe asthma but if they or their relatives are sensitive to fungi it might be worth suggesting to their doctors.