Understanding Athletes: Diseases, Infections, and Injuries

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Athletes can be some of the healthiest people as they continuously exercise their bodies while maintaining a balanced diet to achieve a particular goal in their respective sports. Overall, athletes who engage in body maintenance are at lower risk of metabolic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and other heart diseases.

They may also be far from the risk of becoming overweight and obese. But more active individuals are still prone to obtaining some diseases, infections, and injuries more than others. Depending on the sport they partake in, specific injuries may be found more often due to the nature of the movements and training. But here are some common problems that they generally encounter as people who are constantly active.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal (GI) problems range in various cases with different severities from gas, diarrhea, vomiting, lactose intolerance to acid reflux, peptic ulcer, and Crohn’s disease. These problems occur in the gastrointestinal tract, starting from the mouth and ending in the anus.

Athletes are prone to GI problems, especially in the upper part of the system, due to a greater risk of mechanical trauma. This can occur in their sport, specific drug intake, certain dietary factors in their food, and even dehydration. Some of these can be remedied with medication or a lifestyle change. Still, the more serious cases will need to be observed and examined by a gastro specialist to fix the problem accordingly.

Respiratory Illnesses

Respiratory illnesses, especially infections in the upper respiratory tract, are reported by many athletes who engage in extended, intense training, which can bring much exhaustion. This may result from their training exercises suppressing the functions of their immune system, making them prone to such illnesses. Allergic reactions are also reported to have been found in many athletes. They are hypothesized to be the leading cause of these respiratory problems instead of actual infections.

Sleep Problems

person on bed

Athletes may be subjected to a lot of pressure that can give them performance anxiety. This, in turn, can cause various sleeping problems that can affect how they engage in their sport. These can include trouble in falling asleep and breathing issues like unusual snoring while sleeping. On the other hand, some athletes experience this problem due to irregular sleep patterns brought about by intense training, frequent traveling, and even injuries obtained.


Fractures are common in most contact and high-impact sports like wrestling, football, hockey, and other sports that require participants to jump and run repetitively, like gymnastics and track and field. These kinds of sports put stress on the body, especially on the muscles and bones. Over time, these can become weak and more prone to breakage.

The most common fractures that athletes experience are on the hands, wrists, feet, and ankles, as these are vulnerable to being bent past their limits upon contact with other players. The constant movement puts even more stress on these places as most sports will not give enough time for the body to rest throughout the game.


Almost every sport that asks for the athletes to move more than the average person increases the likelihood of experiencing slips, falls, and collisions resulting in concussions. Concussions are a type of injury that can damage the head and the brain. Medical professionals found that a single concussion usually will not cause major damage to the brain, of course, depending on the severity of the injury.

Most of the time, the symptoms of this injury manifest as dizziness, balancing problems, headaches, double vision, confusion, etcetera, which can last for a few days to weeks. But the more serious and repetitive concussions can harm the brain, causing swelling or bleeding that may need some medical procedure to fix. Obtaining a concussion will require an athlete to take a break from their sport and only return after a doctor has permitted them to do so.

Active people can be healthier than others as they can better maintain good physical health. Much of this will come down to the reduced risk of obesity and a whole slew of diseases that the condition can cause. But athletes, especially those competing in bigger leagues, may push themselves to the limit, overexerting their bodies and neglecting other needs like food and rest.

This eventually leaves them vulnerable to other injuries and diseases that can endanger their careers, or worse, their lives. But these risks can be avoided with good control over oneself, always choosing their well-being over other less important things. With this, whatever sport we spend our time in, we should all continue keeping ourselves in the best state possible for a better future.

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