Sport-related ear, nose and throat diseases

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


A large variety of sports carry many risks for ear, nose and throat diseases. These vary from swimmer’s ear infections to surfer’s ear canal exostoses, skier’s running nose, nasal and facial fractures in multiple sports, olfaction loss in contact sports, audiovestibular symptoms after concussion, triathlete’s dizziness, wrestler’s ear deformity and endurance athlete’s laryngeal obstruction in maximal effort exercise. They can affect sport performance and disturb training. These problems have been studied to various degrees, yet the effect, especially on sport performance and training, has seldom been clarified. This doctoral thesis includes four separate studies covering a large variety of different aspects of sport-related ear, nose, and throat diseases. The first study was about cauliflower ear, its prevalence, symptoms and treatment and the athletes’ attitude towards it. We distributed a paper questionnaire to elite wrestlers and judokas. In our study, the prevalence of cauliflower ear (73%, 46/63) was higher than in previous studies. Almost all athletes (96%, 44/46) had some symptoms of cauliflower ear but no one regretted it, and only two athletes (3%, 2/63) considered it an aesthetic disadvantage. In the second study, we examined special features and the mechanism behind triathlete’s dizziness by an electronic questionnaire and a cold-water swimming test. The majority (85%, 106/125) of the athletes answering the questionnaire had suffered dizziness in connection to the swimming leg. Dizziness was disturbing as it affected the sport performance for half of the athletes with dizziness. Our hypothesis was that caloric reaction explains the dizziness during swimming. Both the questionnaire answers and cold-water swimming test confirmed at least partially our suspicion. Dizziness caused by caloric reaction can be easily prevented by using earplugs during swimming leg. In the third study, we found that chemical irritation in swimming or recurrent head trauma in boxing or soccer did not affect elite athletes’ odour identification test scores. Floorball players constructed a control group. In addition to the olfaction test, we evaluated other factors influencing the olfaction by a questionnaire. We confirmed an earlier finding about the high prevalence of rhinitis symptoms among athletes and that swimmers have more diagnosed asthma than other athletes. In the fourth study, in total 599 sport-related nasal fractures treated at Helsinki University Hospital (HUH) were found from the HUH database from 2013 to 2018. A large variety of different sports caused nasal fractures, and more than half (56%, 334/599) of them were caused by team sports. Contact with another person was the most common injury mechanism (52%, 314/599). Young males were most prone to getting sport-related nasal fractures. Our findings about the risk sports and injury mechanisms could help to prevent nasal fractures in the future. Studies in this thesis clarify several sport-related ear, nose and throat diseases and have found a possible treatment for triathlete’s dizziness. Still, there are many aspects to study in this interesting and variable area of sport- related ear, nose, and throat diseases to help athletes to reach their top performance, optimize their treatment, and add knowledge about risks in different sports.
Original languageEnglish
  • Blomgren, Karin, Supervisor
  • Klockars, Tuomas, Supervisor
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-8979-0
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-8980-6
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Bibliographical note

M1 - 99 s. + liitteet

Fields of Science

  • 3125 Otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology

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