tips about when you are too sick to play sports from mercy health
Healthy Living

Taking a Time-Out During Flu Season

Jan 30 2018

Your nose is running and you’ve had a cough for weeks…but when are you too sick to play sports?

Over the past few weeks, flu cases have been on the rise, with symptoms such as sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion and cough becoming more present. For athletes or fitness enthusiasts, this raises the question of when to take time off for illness.

So, when should you allow your sickness to make you rest from your favorite activities?

To help you decide, try to sort out whether your symptoms are mostly above or below the neck.

Above the neck symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion

These symptoms are typical of a viral upper respiratory infection, known to most as “the common cold.”  With these symptoms, it’s okay to do physical activities, but you may want to decrease the intensity or duration.

Below the neck symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Chest congestion
  • Upset stomach

When you have these symptoms, you should stop physical activities until you are better.

Other symptoms such as fever, fatigue and widespread muscle aches are also good reasons to take the sidelines as well. These symptoms could mean you have the flu, bronchitis, mono or a stomach bug.

If you are going to continue playing, it is important to stay hydrated. If you are dehydrated, then you should take a break from physical activities. Also, remember not to play if you have a temperature of 100.5 or higher.

After an illness, remember to gradually work back into your sport or fitness activity. You may want to decrease the duration or intensity of the activity for a few days as you return to your sport. Lastly, help protect your teammates and others by frequent hand washing.

If you have any further questions about your illness, or your illness is simply not going away, you should reach out to your primary care doctor. If you’re in need of a primary care physician, visit or call 513-952-5000 today.

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