Asthma is relatively common among the population in Sweden, but even more common among those who practice endurance training in the cold, such as cross-country skiers. Can the use of heat and moisture exchange (HME) mask be the solution to prevent this "occupational injury" among elite skiers?



The cause of the high incidence is believed to be repeated and prolonged inhalation of cold dry air which eventually damages the trachea and causes asthma.

The hypothesis is that regular use of HME in training in the cold can prevent the onset of airway damage and asthma in cross-country skiers. In patients with asthma, HME can effectively relieve exercise induced asthma triggered by the cold.

However, there is a lack of knowledge if regular use of HME in training in the cold can prevent the occurrence of respiratory conditions and asthma in healthy persons and whether HME affects the physical performance of elite athletes and in which way.


The functionality of HME and the effects of using HME in regular and intense cold air exposure will be studied by measuring biomarkers for airway damage and immune system. The aim is to reduce the development of asthma in cross-country skiers.

The project includes primary prevention of disease and if the project succeeds in preventing asthma in elite skiers in cross-country skiing, the results may also be of use to other groups, such as professionals who work in the cold.


Project manager and doctoral student main supervisor, Nikolai Stenfors, MD, PhD, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå University Hospital and Östersund Hospital.

Hampus Persson, PhD student, Umeå University

Collaborating researchers and assistant supervisors Helen Hanstock, PhD and Mats Ainegren, PhD, Mid Sweden University.

Project period



The project is done in a collaboration between Umeå University Hospital and Mid Sweden University. The experiments will be carried out at the research centers Sports Tech Research Centre and the Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Mid Sweden University.