The flu dilemma

As the seasons change many people are revelling at the beauty of fall; the air is brisk and the trees are decorated with red and yellow leaves. It really is a beautiful time of the year, but with it comes the threat of sickness.

Flu season isn’t enjoyable for anyone; there are runny noses to deal with, sore throats to tend to, and coughs to cure. However, flu season is made harder for athletes because there are very few medications we are allowed to take. As a member of a varsity sport in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) we fall under the guidelines of the Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES). The CCES releases a list of banned substances every year, which can be quite predictable in restricting the use of alcohol, drugs, and steroids.

However, there are other elements on the list which can be found in everyday medications. For instance, you aren’t allowed to take anything extra strength. During cold season it’s particularly difficult because Advil cold & sinus, Buckley’s, and Cold FX all have ingredients that could cause a positive doping test result, and consequently end your athletic career.

Essentially, if you have a cold you are left with Neo Citron. Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than nothing, but it doesn’t provide the same relief.

Athletes that compete during the winter are more susceptible to illness because they are exerting themselves, which can affect the strength of their immune system. The only way to attempt to protect yourself from sickness is to load up on water and get as much rest as possible. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get enough rest when you have gym workouts, practice, and assignments to do.

On a team it’s even more difficult to stay healthy. You’re in close contact with one another for at least 90 minutes per day, so sickness can spread easily. After three winters as a student-athlete I haven’t succeeded in finding a fool-proof plan for beating flu season. In fact, I think I have been sick every year.

The combination of exertion, cold weather, and restrictions on medication make it almost impossible for athletes to protect themselves from illness during the winter months. The only chance you have is to get your rest and drink lots of water. So cheers to the winter months!

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