Upper respiratory tract symptoms and allergies in Ironman triathletes

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Triathletes, in particular Ironman triathletes, undergo intense training and compete in a very physically demanding race. Medical conditions in the pre-race period in these triathletes have not been well documented, but there is evidence form other endurance sports that symptoms of respiratory tract infection are particularly common. However, the prevalence, causes and consequences of these symptoms have not been studied in Ironman triathletes. The aims of this study were: 1) to determine the incidence of respiratory tract symptoms (RTS) in triathletes preparing for an Ironman Triathlon, 2) to establish the factors associated with the development of these RTS, and 3) to determine the effects of the RTS on pre-race training and race performance. Methods: In this cross-sectional descriptive study, 304 triathletes entering the 2006 Ironman triathlon in South Africa were recruited as subjects. All the subjects completed a validated questionnaire in the 1-3 days before the race (during registration). The questionnaire contained sections on demographics, training and previous competitions, common general medical conditions that they may have experienced, and a detailed section pertaining to RTS and allergies, including use of medication. Data on race performance was collected after completion of the race. Subjects were divided into the following groups, based on their self-reported history of RTS in the 6 weeks period prior to the race: no RTS, all RTS, only upper respiratory tract symptoms (URTS), lower respiratory tract and/or systemic symptoms (LRT +SS).

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 69-77).