Swimming may increase the risk of asthma

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Melbourne, Nov 25 (UNI) For decades parents have been encouraged to get their asthmatic children into the pool, but new reports suggest the very exercise that might be the remedy for respiratory problems may be the cause.

The Olympic gold medallist Grant Hackett, who announced that he had been diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, may not be alone as one in ten Australians are believed to suffer from the disease.

At the last two Olympic Games about 16 to 20 per cent of the national swimming teams claimed to suffer from it. The fact was confirmed by Swimming Australia when it said around one third of the teams are now asthmatic, The Age reported.

The debate in medical circles questions- do a high percentage of swimmers suffer from asthma because they swim, or did they took up swimming because they suffer from asthma.

While some members of the national swim team have admitted they took up swimming as asthmatic children, there is mounting evidence to suggest a growing number of professional swimmers are developing the illness as a result of their time in the pool.

The Australian Olympic Committee's asthma expert Karen Holzer said, ''all endurance athletes are exposed to it as a result of their training.'' ''There are two types of asthmatics, the person who has got background asthma that is triggered by exercise, and that's about 90 per cent of people with asthma and other which is more in the elite athletes, particularly those involved in the endurance sports,'' Dr Holzer said.

''On the surface of all the pools there's a gaseous layer of chlorine and its metabolised gases, that acts as an irritant to the airways it's a bit like an occupational asthma,'' she said.

Professor Philip Thompson, director, Lung Institute at the University of Western Australia, said ''while there is some evidence that over-chlorinated pools may trigger the illness, the actual act of swimming is not a cause.'' UNI XC PD KN2023

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