Apolo Ohno had the symptoms, but not the diagnosis: Shortness of breath. Wheezing. An overall decrease in athletic performance.
Ohno, of course, is an eight-time speedskating gold medalist, and the most decorated American winter athlete of all time. But as he was wowing the world on the ice, he was suffering from exercise-induced bronchospasm, or a temporary narrowing of the airways that produces extras mucus.
"I thought it was a byproduct of me being out of shape or not training enough," Ohno says, adding that he experienced a 35 percent decline in his normal breathing ability. "When I was diagnosed, I immediately saw an improvement in my performance and daily activities. It gave me internal confidence ... I didn't let it hamper me in any way."
Today, Ohno says he's passionate about staying active. In addition to two stints on Dancing With the Stars, he completed the New York City Marathon in 2012 in 3 hours, 25 minutes, and 14 seconds. And he counts skiing, mountain bike riding, and cycling among his favorite pastimes.
Now, he's deciding exactly what role he wants to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics. "You will see me in Russia—I just don't know in what capacity," he says. "I'll probably still have my skates on me. I just don't know if I'll be skating in them or not."
In the Google Hangout above, U.S. News Health + Wellness chats with Ohno about his respiratory condition, how it's affected his career, why he's speaking out now, and what else we can expect from him in the coming months.
For more on his efforts to raise awareness about EIB, see eiballstars.com.