Health is the one thing we all think of when we think of Olympic Athletes (the other is, of course, SEXY), which is why it's shocking to learn that so many Olympic athletes suffer from a particularly common ailment: asthma.
Asthma is a medical disorder that causes the airways of our lungs to swell and narrow, which can cause difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, coughing, and wheezing.
But how does this happen to nearly 8 percent of Olympic athletes? And how can they function above and beyond in their sports?
Evidence published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, suggests that asthma may be linked to the intense training that's required by Olympic athletes - especially those that require endurance training or winter training as breathing the cold winter air can contribute to airway damage.
Another factor that could contribute to asthma in Olympic athletes is air quality. Both cold air and polluted air can be harmful to the airways of some Olympians, but not all.
Other ailments common to Olympic athletes are problems with their skin, such as sun damage from grueling practice schedules. This sun damage can lead to skin cancer as Olympians who practice in the sun are prone to increased UV radiation. This sun damage may not affect the Olympian in the short-term (rather than, perhaps a sunburn) but can lead to cancerous skin lesions that develop later in life.
It's important to note that both skin exposure and asthma are conditions that can be treatable. Asthma is often treated by anti-asthma medications, known as inhaled beta-2 agonists. Skin damage can be minimized by proper usage of sunblock and avoiding practice during the hottest hours of the day (generally speaking 12-2 PM).
What's even more astonishing than Olympic athletes having asthma is this: they routinely beat their opponents.
Pretty inspiring, if you ask me.
Is this surprising to you?
Image via ddkkpp/Flickr