Long Covid in sports (and not only): in a book what science says about long-term effects

A guide for people who continue to experience complaints after infection, to help them interpret the symptoms and evaluate the tests to be done to arrive at useful therapies on a case-by-case basis

Vera Martinella

As time passes, knowledge accumulates about what the World Health Organization has christened as Post Covid syndromethat is, the state of health of those who still suffer from problems beyond 12 weeks from the end of the acute phase of the SARS-CoV-2 infection. Not a few professional athletes, especially before the arrival of the vaccines, said they had “felt the pinch” with an infection that was difficult to dispose of even at home or that required oxygen therapy and hospital care, despite the young age and the “healthy and robust constitution”.

the book

Several scientific studies have collected information on the long-term sequelae of Covid-19 even in those who practice sports frequently, at a competitive or amateur level. What exactly is known? A whole chapter of the book Post COVID. What we need to know about the long-term consequences of the virus for body and mind (by Sergio Harari, with Vera Martinella, Solferino editions) is dedicated to this theme. It is the first volume that makes a point on long-term physical and psychological consequences of the infection, a guide for people who continue to suffer from complaints, to help them understand and interpret symptoms, evaluate which tests to do, who to contact for a correct diagnosis and the most suitable therapies.

the protective role of sport

“Moderate exercise with adequate recovery periods has been shown to improve our immune response, while the a sedentary lifestyle “weakens” usbut also too intense physical exercise, creating a stress in the immune system, exposes athletes to a greater risk of infectious diseases, as well as injuries – he explains Gianfranco Beltrami, specialist in Sports Medicine and national vice president of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation (FMSI) –. In short, physical activity characterized by high workloads during training and frequent competitions can increase the susceptibility to viral and bacterial infections through a decreased immunity (creating a state of temporary short-term suppression of the immune system lasting 3-72 hours called “open window”) “.

Post Covid book by Sergio Harari with Vera Martinella

gradual return “to the field”

In any case, if competitive athletes and cannot contract Covid-19 in a more or less severe way, they can also suffer from Post Covid synphromes and this possibility does not seem to be related to how serious the infection was. “Many athletes who came to my observation after recovery showed symptoms such as physical fatigue, muscle fatigue, tachycardia with exaggerated increase in beats even for small efforts, difficulty in recovery, lack of strength for up to two or three months after the negativization of the molecular test – says Beltrami -. In rare cases, cases of impaired memory and concentration and intestinal disorders. The Italian Sports Medical Federation thus placed the accent on the ithe importance of a very gradual return to sporting activity especially in athletes who have had symptomatic forms of Covid or who have had complications and this only after a thorough evaluation by the sports doctor “.

post covid symptoms

A great sense of tiredness, shortness of breath (dyspnoea), pain in bones, muscles and joints, headache, cough, chest pain or tightness in the chest, difficulty with memory and concentration, diarrhea, hives. These are just some of the ailments that remain in thousands of patients after having Covid-19 and that they appear to be affect even 50% of those who are infected, not necessarily in severe form. But thethe list of symptoms that persist is very long and if so many people see the problems persist For me yesthere are also many who see them appear from scratch, a few weeks after the end of the infection (therefore it is not a continuation of something that started while positive, but that begins later). Those who suffer most from Post (or Long) Covid seem to be mainly those who have an older agethe female sexthose who are obese or overweight, those who have had hospitalization (especially if in intensive care) due to a severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, those suffering from other diseases (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, for example) .

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