Olympic Athletes and Their Health Concerns

Whenever there are Olympic games, it goes without saying that athletes are generally concerned about their health in a foreign land. This is because there are “foreign” viruses in different places and since they are not used to that environment, they can be susceptible to getting them.

Take, for example, the Zika virus that had an outbreak in 2015. This virus was one of the top concerns in the Rio Olympics simply because acquiring the virus would lead to neurological defects and deficiencies in newborn children. Because of that, some athletes and coaches did not attend the said Olympics.

Aside from the diseases native to the foreign land, there are general health worries that Olympic athletes have. Listed below is a short list of what those concerns are.

  1. Injuries

It is almost impossible for an athlete not to get an injury because of training or the actual competition. In the Beijing Olympics alone, there were around 1,055 injuries documented and a good half of them were due to overuse of the muscles and bones.

Muscle overuse is common among athletes because they go through strenuous training and exercises just to be fit for their competition. However, there are times that these activities damage the muscles or stretch them to their limits that come competition day, there is a chance that these muscles give way.

There is also a high risk of facial injuries, especially for contact sports. This is because there are sports that offer no protection to the face and one wrong move of a player might get the other or both of them in an injury. There are also times where the equipment needed for a sport can do the damage on the face when the athlete accidentally uses the equipment wrongly.

  1. Dehydration

Because of the number of body activities an Olympic athlete gets, they can be prone to dehydration. Continuous exercises without enough water breaks can cause dehydration. The bad part about this is that some people will not know that they are dehydrated unless symptoms show or they get ill.

Water is vital to anyone’s body, even more so to Olympic athletes as water helps regenerate cells and reinforce proper oxygen flow in the body. When an athlete is dehydrated, they can get dizzy or become prone to other illnesses because of a weak immune system.

  1. Hyponatremia

If lacking water is a bad thing, then drinking too much water is bad, too. Too much water is bad for the body when the person is not able to flush out excess water through their daily activities.

Hyponatremia is a condition wherein the person experiences nausea, migraines, muscle cramps and seizures because there is too much sodium that is lost whenever the person sweats or pees. This illness is caused by an imbalance in the nutrients of the body because of too much water.

  1. Bacteria from food and water

The concern for having safe and clean food is always present whenever there are Olympic games. Because athletes have their own special diets (like the Michael Phelps diet), it is important that they get the right amount of calories in their body. However, there can be some difficulty in this because going to a foreign land to compete also implies that you source your athlete’s food in that country.

To add to that, a lot of care is given whenever an athlete tries out the street food in a country. Although not all street food is unsafe, being exposed to the pollution everywhere can increase the chances of the food becoming contaminated. This is why some athletes were banned from trying out the street food in some countries.

  1. MRSA Infection

You probably haven’t heard of this yet, but MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infection is an infection caused by a type of Staphylococcus bacteria. These bacteria can harm the body by entering open cuts and bruises. What makes this one of the top concerns of athletes and coaches is that the bacteria are difficult to treat because they are often resistant to the substances found in antibiotics.

According to the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases for the University of Utah, Sankar Swaminathan, M.D., MRSA infection can cause bone infections, skin infections, and can go into the bloodstream and infect the other organs in its way. It can also cause heart valve infections and pneumonia.

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