Friday Links – Breathing at the Vancouver Olympics

A Question: What Do Red Alder Trees Have to do With Olympics Results?
Your answer:

They start blooming in Vancouver and Whistler soon, and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology thinks the pollen could trigger athletes’ allergies and/or asthma, affecting performance.

And Speaking of the Winter Olympics and Asthma
The Well blog examines high incidences of asthma in elite winter athletes and the difference between exercise-induced asthma and regular, everyday asthma like my kid’s. If you’ve ever wanted to understand EIA better – because people have a lot of misconceptions about it, starting with the idea that this condition is “asthma” at all, at least in the traditional sense of the word – this post is a good place to start. The comments are kind of fun, too, with all kinds of accusations flying about false asthma diagnoses for the sake of performance-enhancing medicine.

Recycled Medals at the 2010 Olympics
For the very first time, recycled gold, silver, and copper from e-waste make up a part – even if it’s a very small part – of the medals in this year’s Games.

17 responses to “Friday Links – Breathing at the Vancouver Olympics”

  1. Sara C. says:

    I’m giggling at the comments. When my kid is flaring, or even just having a little trouble…her albuterol is definitely not enhancing her performance of ANYTHING.

    There are so many athletes that are interviewed, and one of the things they say is “I have asthma, and the doctor told my mom to sign me up for a sport, and then I fell in love with it” Could THAT be why there is a large number of asthmatic athletes? Who knows…but I don’t buy the “performance enhancing” aspect of the meds for asthma.

    Good articles..thanks.

  2. Danielle says:

    Good links!

    I was so surprised when they announced Vancouver for the winter olympics. Yes, it’s Canada and yes there are mountains, but it’s a coastal city and does not get much actual winter. My mom was there two weeks ago and she said she saw daffofils! I didn’t think about the pollen starting though, I would not be a happy camper if I were an olympic athlete.

    About the EIB link – did I ever mention that my asthma diagnosis came the year that I was most heavily involved in cross-country ski racing and speed skating? I had always been a coughy/wheezy kid but the way I responded to exercise in cold air was what first really highlighted that something was wrong. Cold air really does a number on the lungs, whatever the mechanism.

  3. Sara C. says:

    My AG loves to downhill ski….and it freaks me out every time. She goes with my dad, and I always make him give her a neb treatment before they go, and he has to carry her Xop with him too…because she reacts to the cold. BUT, I hate telling her “you can’t” just because of asthma.

    Apparently, there was some concern about there being enough snow on the mountain for the Olympics…I’m sure they’ve been able to make snow, though.

  4. Danielle says:

    They’re helicoptering in snow!! How crazy!

  5. Amy says:

    Sara–I think false asthma diagnoses are plausible, given the super-charged competition level and the need to find any edge over other athletes, but likely? That’s another story. Testing is pretty rigorous now, and I keep thinking about how unethical a dr. would have to be to maintain false records for an athlete. So even though it’s possible, the commenters on that post are going way overboard.

    And I wonder, too, if the numbers of elite athletes w/asthma seem high because the asthma simply makes them try harder & want to defy the breathing challenges? My younger, non-asthmatic daughter isn’t really into sports and isn’t competitive. AG is an incredible athlete, though, and I think asthma is part of the reason. She appreciates it more, the ability to run and play, BECAUSE of those very times when she can’t.

    Danielle–No, I didn’t know that. You know, cold air doesn’t seem to bother AG at ALL, even she’s hiking & here in high altitude. But then again, she competes in gym sports, so her most strenuous activity is probably indoors.

    And I can’t even picture a helicopter load of snow–so bizarre.

  6. Sara C. says:

    My AG is so afraid of not being able to breathe, that she doesn’t do a whole lot of anything. I’m signing her up for spring soccer this year, just because I truly believe that exercising the lungs is good for lung health. (plus, spring and fall are her “good” seasons…she has trouble in the cold and in the humidity…so spring soccer should be an ok time for her)

    You know…I just thought of something else…would any endurance athlete, in a sport that has their heart rate elevated for an extended time due to the exercise really introduce a drug that increases their heart rate also…that just seems like a heart attack waiting to happen. So, I guess I agree….I guess it’s plausible, but really not probable at all.

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