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South African Medical Journal

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Exercise-induced asthma in a group of South African schoolchildren during physical education classes

R E Kirkby, J A Ker

Abstract


Objectives. The study was conducted to ascertain whether physical education teachers, using a peak flow meter, could reliably screen for exercise-induced asthma (EIA) in children during free running.

Design, setting and subjects. The study was conducted using a convenience sample of male pupils between the ages of 12 and 18 years. They were tested with a peak flow meter for peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) and with a flow-volume curve for forced expiratory flow in 1 second (FEV1) before and 10 minutes after a self-paced free running test during physical education classes. Testing was undertaken by teachers using the peak flow meter and by a medical doctor using a flow-volume curve.

Results. Using a 10% decrease in flow parameters (PEFR and FEV1), teachers detected EIA in 14.9% of pupils and the doctor detected EIA in 21.7% of pupils.

Conclusion. We conclude that EIA is common and that teachers using a peak flow meter can detect EIA and thus screen for it; they do, however, underestimate the true magnitude of the problem.




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