He attributed it to lack of conditioning – certainly nothing to see a doctor about, or so he thought. Symptoms only worsened and it took him longer to recover after a workout.
It was a critical juncture in Ohno’s career as one of America’s top short-track speed skaters. He was training for the 2002 Winter Games when respiratory tests during 9-lap time trials revealed a significant drop-off in his breathing capacity.
“It turned out my respiration was working at about 40 percent less than what it should have been,” he said.
Ohno was diagnosed with exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB), a temporary narrowing of the airways during or after exercise that can make it difficult to breathe.
“I needed to know what was going on with my breathing so that I could perform to the best of my ability,” he said. “I needed to know what medication would work best for my body. And I felt like I needed a healthcare professional to give me that guidance.”
Ohno’s career really took off after the diagnosis. His doctor prescribed a bronchodilator to use before and during exercise. He had already incorporated warm-ups, cool down and increased hydration into his routine.
Now the most-decorated American winter athlete of all-time, Ohno will share his story of overcoming EIB at AANMA’s 16th annual Allergy & Asthma Day Capitol Hill (AADCH) on Thursday, May 9, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.
As part of AADCH, Ohno will speak to members of the media during a press breakfast, and then meet one-on-one with congressional leaders. Families and fans are invited to visit the EIB All Stars booth during AANMA’s Allergy & Asthma Health Fair in the Rayburn Foyer to register for the campaign fan club. All registrants will be automatically entered into a raffle to win one of three unique prizes. Ohno will draw the raffle winners.
“I hope that by bringing my experience to the forefront, I can encourage others with EIB to seek out a diagnosis and treatment strategy,” he said.
Ohno is the top American in short-track speed skating and the face of the sport globally. At 14, he became the youngest-ever U.S. National Champion in the sport. He would go on to become a 12-time National Champion.
Ohno won a total of eight medals – the most ever by a U.S. Winter Olympic athlete – competing in the Winter Olympic games in 2002, ’06 and ’10. He is also one of only four Americans to win three medals in a single winter international games (2006).
Ohno transitioned his athletic success to competing in and winning ABC’s hit reality TV show “Dancing With the Stars” in the spring of 2007. Last fall, he rejoined the show as part of an all-star cast and finished in the top five. On March 14, Game Show Network announced Ohno will host GSN’s “Minute to Win It.”
Ohno is also the author of The New York Times best-selling book Zero Regrets, about his inspiring path to success and the pursuit of living life without looking back.– By Gary Fitzgerald First published in Allergy & Asthma Today, Summer 2013.