by Dr. Dev Mishra
We're in that time of year when people start sneezing and coughing all around you. It's pretty easy to catch a cold or sinus congestion to generally make you feel lousy. And at the same time your team continues to practice and play games. You want to keep playing, so should you just try to play through it or should you sit out and get better (and maybe do your teammates a favor by not getting them sick)?
Here are some things to consider before deciding whether you should lay low or break a sweat.
Above the neck or below the neck. A guideline doctors have used for a long time is to see if what youâ€™re experiencing is â€śabove the neckâ€ť (meaning sniffling, sneezing, sore throat, etc.) or â€śbelow the neckâ€ť (coughing, aches, stomach pains, etc.). If youâ€™re symptoms are above the neck then you can probably do a light workout on your own if youâ€™re feeling up to it. However, if your symptoms are below the neck, skip the workout. If you have a fever, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, now is the time to rest because you are already at a higher risk of dehydration and taking longer to recover from your illness.
Dial it back. Even if you meet the above-the-neck guidelines, you should dial back the intensity of your workout. Perhaps a light jog, some easy weights in the gym, or maybe just a flexibility session. Youâ€™ll want to be sure to stay hydrated, monitor your exertion level and keep checking in to see if what you are doing is making you feel better or worse than when you started exercising.
Be a good person and avoid your teammates. My recommendations above are really about working out on your own. But if youâ€™re thinking of doing a team practice itâ€™ll be a good idea to skip the practice. Out of consideration for your teammates, give them a break and donâ€™t take the risk of passing on what you have to them.
One â€śabove the neckâ€ť ailment is the common cold. The common cold can be caused by a number of different viruses, but the â€śrhinovirusâ€ť is believed to be the main culprit.
When someone has a cold the first three days are generally when they are most capable of passing the cold virus on to someone else. The virus is passed through aerosol particles when someone sneezes, and also by contact with the skin of someone who is infected. Itâ€™s incredibly easy to pass on the virus and young children seem particularly skilled at this, as any parent whoâ€™s had a child in daycare can attest.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers some simple tips to reduce the chance of catching a cold:
â€˘ Wash your hands with soap and water often.
â€˘ Donâ€™t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
â€˘ Avoid being around people who are sick (that means team practices).
Take care of yourself and take care of others by avoiding sports practices when youâ€™re sick. Thereâ€™ll be plenty of other training sessions where you can shine when youâ€™re feeling good.
â€˘ We are in the â€ścommon cold seasonâ€ť where many around you will be sneezing.
â€˘ If you have a cold you should avoid team practices so you donâ€™t pass the cold on to your teammates.
â€˘ However you might be able to do a light workout on your own as long as your symptoms are mild and â€śabove the neck.â€ť