Updated 26 February 2014

Flu and sport

Forget about "sweating out" a cold or flu. The message is simple: do not train if you have the flu.


  • Forget about "sweating out" a cold or flu. The message is simple: do not train if you have the flu.
  • Strain on an infected heart muscle (myocarditis, one of the possible complications of flu) may lead to paralysis of this muscle. There have been cases (in young sportspeople) where the only way to survive after myocarditis was a heart transplant.
  • A gradual return to exercise after recovering from flu is best. You should generally not exercise for at least seven days after recovering.
  • Sportspeople must be well aware that some flu medication might contain banned substances such as pseudo-ephedrine, caffeine and others.
  • With easy access of athletes to sport events in the Northern hemisphere, an athlete might be exposed to a flu virus not yet in South Africa. The best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated with a flu vaccine relevant to the part of the world that you're heading for.
  • Men genuinely get more ill from flu, possibly because their immune systems react more aggressively.


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