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Journal of Allergy
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 520913, 5 pages
Research Article

Swimming and Asthma: Differences between Women and Men

1Unit for Sport and Exercise Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Foundation for Sports and Exercise Medicine, Paasikivenkatu 4, 00250 Helsinki, Finland
3Finnish Society of Sport Sciences Olympic Stadium, Paavo Nurmentie 1B, 00250 Helsinki, Finland

Received 4 October 2012; Revised 18 December 2012; Accepted 9 January 2013

Academic Editor: Ting Fan Leung

Copyright © 2013 Marja Kristiina Päivinen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background and Aim. Asthma is common in endurance athletes including swimmers. Our aim was to study gender differences in asthma, allergy, and asthmatic symptoms in swimmers and investigate the effects of varying intensities of physical exercise on competitive swimmers with asthma. Methods. Three hundred highly trained swimmers (156 females and 144 males) were studied by a questionnaire. Their mean (±SD) ages were and years, and they had training history of and years in females and males, respectively. Gender differences in asthma, allergy, and respiratory symptoms were examined. Special attention was focused on asthmatic swimmers, their allergies and respiratory symptoms during swimming at different intensities. Results. The prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 19% for females and males. No gender differences in asthma or respiratory symptoms were found. Males reported allergies significantly more often than females ( ). Gender difference was found in respiratory symptoms among swimmers with physician-diagnosed asthma because females reported symptoms significantly more often ( ) than males. Asthmatic females also reported symptoms significantly more often at moderate intensity swimming ( ) than males especially for coughing. Discussion. Gender difference in prevalence of asthma was not found in swimmers. However, allergy was reported significantly more by male swimmers. Male swimmers with asthma reported significantly more cases having family history of asthma, which may be a sign of selection of asthma-friendly sport. Moderate intensity swimming seemed to induce significantly more symptoms especially coughing in asthmatic females.