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Nasal symptoms, epithelial injury and neurogenic inflammation in elite swimmers

Volume: 56 - Issue: 3

Firstpage: 279 - Lastpage: 287

B. Steelant - V. Hox - L. Van Gerven - E. Dilissen - E. Dekimpe - A. Kasran - S. Aertgeerts - V. Van Belle - K. Peers - L.J. Dupont - P.W. Hellings - D.M. Bullens - S.F. Seys

BACKGROUND: A high burden of lower airway symptoms is found in elite swimmers. To what extent elite swimmers suffer from upper airway symptoms and how these associate with nasal inflammation is less clear. We here aimed to evaluate upper airway symptoms and nasal inflammation in elite athletes.
METHODOLOGY: Elite swimmers, indoor athletes and age-matched controls were recruited. Upper airway symptoms were assessed by sino-nasal outcome test (SNOT)-22 questionnaire. Visual Analogue score (VAS) for nasal symptoms as well as neurogenic and inflammatory mediators in nasal fluid were assessed at baseline, immediately and 24-hours after sport-specific training. The effect of hypochlorite on nasal epithelial cells was evaluated in vitro.
RESULTS: Baseline SNOT-22 and VAS for nasal itch and impaired smell were significantly higher in swimmers compared to controls. Nasal substance P and uric acid levels were increased in elite swimmers 24-hours after swimming compared to baseline. In elite swimmers, uric acid levels 24-hours post-exercise correlated with baseline SNOT-22. As increased symptoms and inflammation were found in swimmers but not in indoor athletes, we hypothesized that hypochlorite exposure might be the underlying mechanism. In vitro, the highest dose of hypochlorite decreased nasal epithelial cell integrity and induced release of uric acid.
CONCLUSION: Upper airway symptoms are frequently reported in elite swimmers. Intensive swimming resulted in a delayed increase of epithelial injury and neurogenic inflammation.

B. Steelant - V. Hox - L. Van Gerven - E. Dilissen - E. Dekimpe - A. Kasran - S. Aertgeerts - V. Van Belle - K. Peers - L.J. Dupont - P.W. Hellings - D.M. Bullens - S.F. Seys - Nasal symptoms, epithelial injury and neurogenic inflammation in elite swimmers
Rhinology 56-3: 279-287, 2018