Asthma in Athletes Program

The Asthma Center at The Oregon Clinic offers a specialized, clinical program devoted to the unique care and individual needs of elite or recreational athletes with asthma. We are dedicated to ensure all athletes with asthma are able to compete to the maximum of their abilities without being limited by their asthma. We are part of the Providence Sports Medicine Program.

Why do we offer such a program?
Because breathing problems during exercise are extremely common. Almost 80% of people with chronic asthma will experience some breathing issues with exercise which is called 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
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness
  • 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?
We welcome athletes from all ages (12 yrs and up) and all levels of competition. We treat both the elite athlete and the weekend warrior as well as those who just like to enjoy the great Oregon outdoors!

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, etc. 

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.

We offer Eucapnic Voluntary Hyperventilation (EVH) testing – a rapid breathing test used to diagnose exercise-induced asthma. EVH testing is the International Olympic Committee’s preferred test for diagnosing exercise-induced asthma. Watch a video of an EVH test:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mtr--ltLAh0

We also provide access to our multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers that specialize in fields of medicine that include ENT/allergy, sleep medicine, and primary care sports medicine. 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.

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