HKBU research shows symptoms of allergic rhinitis affect sports performance and quality of life
17 Jun 2013
Research conducted by Professor Patrick Lau of the Physical Education Department of Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and Dr. Simon Wong of the Ear, Nose & Throat Centre of Hong Kong Limited showed that close to 60 per cent of people surveyed suffered from the symptoms of allergic rhinitis. The effects of dry throat and dry cough on the quality of life and sports performance were most significant. In addition, respondents who participated in individual sports and those aged 40 and above were mostly affected by the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Allergic rhinitis is a common ear, nose and throat problem. Symptoms such as running nose, nasal congestion and sneezing bother the patients a lot. Past research findings showed that in developed places such as Hong Kong, the incidence rate of allergic rhinitis can reach 40 per cent. To understand the relationship between allergic rhinitis, sports performance and quality of life, Professor Lau and Dr. Wong conducted the first research study on the subject in November and December 2012.
The research was conducted at four sports centres under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department – Hong Kong Park Sports Centre, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park Sports Centre, Kowloon Park Sports Centre and Ma On Shan Sports Centre. Citizens aged 18 and above were surveyed by means of a questionnaire. A total of 903 completed questionnaires were received, and 875 of them were valid for analysis.
Research results showed that 547 persons (63.3 per cent) suffered from one or more symptoms of allergic rhinitis within the three-month period prior to the survey. Among them 395 people (72.2 per cent) suffered from one to three symptoms while 152 people (27.8 per cent) from four or above symptoms. The number of respondents without any symptoms was 317 (36.7 per cent). A constant running nose was the most common symptom, followed by dry throat and nasal congestion. Most of the respondents had light symptoms, but some had more serious ones that lasted four weeks or more.
The results of the research revealed that in general the symptoms of allergic rhinitis were not significantly harmful to quality of life and sports performance, but dry throat and dry cough showed a notable effect on quality of life and sports performance. The number of respondents who had symptoms of dry cough and dry throat were 171 (20.5 per cent) and 224 (26.8 per cent) respectively and their sports performance and quality of life were worse than those without those symptoms. On the other hand, sports performance of respondents who participated in individual sports was affected more by the symptoms of allergic rhinitis than those who participated in group sports or both types of sports. Professor Lau said more energy was needed for individual sports and health could make performance in these sports fluctuate.
The research also showed that the symptomatic effects increase with age. The symptoms of allergic rhinitis affected the quality of life and sports performance of the respondents aged 40 or above more than those in the younger age group (18-39 years old). In addition, older people suffered from dry cough and dry throat more often than people in the younger group.
Professor Lau said dry cough and dry throat significantly affected sports performance because when we exercise we breathe with our mouth which stimulates coughing and this aggravates the dryness of the throat. So respondents felt that these two conditions affected sports performance particularly. He recommended people inhale through their nose when exercising and exhale through both the mouth and the nose to minimise cold and dry air entering the trachea.
Dr. Wong said if allergic rhinitis is not treated, the symptoms would probably get worse with age and affect health and living. He advised people to seek treatment as soon as possible.