Research Articles

Athletes At Risk for Respiratory and Gastrointestinal Illnesses

Training-related and competition-related risk factors for respiratory tract and gastrointestinal infections in elite cross-country skiers.

Published: British Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2016


While a typical adult may experience 2-4 respiratory tract infections per year, evidence suggests that the high training loads of athletes may increase their risk for infections. Researchers studied cross-country skiers to examine the frequency and duration of symptoms, as well as factors that contribute to increased risk.


Athletes were found to be at a higher risk for acquiring acute respiratory tract and gastrointestinal symptoms. After air travel, they were up to 5 times more likely to acquire symptoms. Major fluctuations in the level of training could also contribute to increased risk of symptoms.