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Call for lung health screening in top football clubs

Call for lung health screening in top football clubs

Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAsthma symptoms can be brought on by exercise in elite athletes

Professional footballers should be screened for exercise-induced asthma, researchers say, after a study found three in 10 could be affected.

University of Kent scientists used lung tests to identify players with symptoms and improved their fitness after treatment.

Elite athletes are known to be prone to asthma-related problems because of their high-intensity breathing.

Experts said screening made sense and could prevent later problems.

In the study, presented at a meeting of the British Thoracic Society, 97 footballers in England from two Premier League clubs, one Championship club and a League One club had their lung health tested during pre-season.

Coughing and wheezing

Twenty-seven players tested positive for airway or breathing problems, also known as exercise-induced asthma.

Ten of those had no previous history of asthma or airway problems.

When they were treated with appropriate medication, their symptoms - such as tightness of the chest, wheezing and coughing after playing - reduced, and their lung function improved over time.

The researchers also found that their aerobic fitness and performance on the pitch improved.

Footballer playing with footballImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionAirway problems can be treated using lung health screening, experts say

Dr John Dickinson, from the school of sport and exercise science at the University of Kent, said although top football clubs were good at screening players for heart problems, they were not carrying out tests which could identify respiratory problems - which were much more common.

"Clubs can't rely on players reporting symptoms because they are not always that obvious and sometimes they are written off as poor fitness," he said.

The researchers used medical tests to assess the footballers' breathing, airway function and how efficiently they could empty their lungs.

They were then able to detect asthma-related symptoms accurately and tailor treatment for those affected.

Improving the health of footballers' airways also has other benefits, Dr Dickinson said.

"They are less likely to pick up coughs and colds."


On:08-12-2017

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