This section provides information about the most common illnesses that afflict young people, and how they should be treated. For more specific questions, we recommend that you contact your GP (General practitioner)
When you have a cold, i.e. sneezing, sore throat and cough, but no fever, you can exercise as usual if your heart rate is not affected. But, be sure to drink sufficiently and stop training when you get tired. It is not dangerous to exercise with a cold but you generally don’t have as much energy as usual. If the infection causes a fever (i.e. temperature over 38 degrees) in the morning or at rest, or if your resting heart rate rises by more than 20%, then this constitutes a serious infection and you shouldn’t exercise.
If you learn what your normal, healthy resting heart rate is, then it is easy to see if you are affected or not. If you have a bacterial infection, that is treated with antibiotics, then the body requires rest during the first days of treatment and you shouldn’t train. When the fever has ended, and your heart rate has returned to normal, you can exercise as usual, even if you are on antibiotics for a few more days.
How, and when, do I measure my resting heart rate?
You measure your resting heart rate directly after you wake up in the morning. You should take your pulse a few days in a row to see if you get the same result. You simply measure by counting your pulse on your wrist for 15 seconds with your index, or middle, finger and then multiply the number by 4, this is your resting heart rate! If you have a heart rate watch, you can just use this – easy!
Asthma and allergy
It is important that you use your prescribed medicines in order to avoid issues during exertion. Keep in mind that different environments and different seasons can cause different problems. Discuss carefully with your doctor to ensure you have the right medication/s. If you cough or become unusually short of breath during exertion, then you need to adjust your medication so that you can exercise as usual. The same principles also apply for pollen-related allergies. It is very important that you, as an asthmatic, do not exercise when it is too cold outside!
Cystitis is a common disease that mainly affects girls. When you get a urinary tract infection (UTI) you are otherwise unaffected and can train as usual.
ADHD is a common condition that is most often treated with medication, most of these medications are on the banned substances list (i.e. classified as doping) and if you use them, and train and compete at the elite level, then you must apply for exemption. This almost never applies for athletes under the age of 16. However, this is good to be aware of for the future. Training and competing with ADHD or similar conditions is, of course, no problem.
Sudden cardiac death
This is not something that children and young people need to think about, as it never happens to healthy individuals.
Cardiac screening: In athletics, it is recommended that an elite athlete undergo a medical check of the heart in light of the extreme strain that elite sport entails. Bear in mind that the ECG assessment should be performed by an experienced doctor who has specialist training within sports medicine. An initial test should be done when the athlete is around 18-20 years of age, and repeated between the ages of 25 and 30.
Cardiac screening is not needed for healthy children or enthusiastic amateurs.
As a diabetic it is very important that you exercise, exercise is just as important as diet, but as with diet, you have to manage your exercise in relation to your medication. It is important that you have a thorough assessment, and discussion, with your diabetes doctor and diabetes nurse so that you know how to dose your medicine (usually insulin) according to exercise intensity. You will feel better when you are well trained!
It is important that you eat a sufficient and balanced diet in light of the fact that you are training and growing. A prerequisite to developing stronger muscles and improving fitness is that you consume at least as much energy as you burn. It is very dangerous to avoid food in an attempt to lose weight during childhood. If you lower your food intake and continue exercising your muscles and bones will break down, you will break down the whole body and feel much worse. Keep in mind that you need to eat a lot because you train! Talk to your coach if you notice a friend who is trying to lose weight by continuing to exercise whilst not eating enough; this is not a good combination.
If you notice that you are losing weight then you have likely eaten too little food in relation to the amount of training that you have done, and you should seek advice.
Here are contact details if you think you have an eating disorder, or suspect that someone you know has an eating disorder (in Sweden):
www.friskfri.se Riksföreningen mot ätstörningar
Tjejzonen – ätstörning
Peterson L, Renström P. Sports Injuries. 4ed. Taylor and Francis. 2016.
Sverker N – Sports Medicine Physician, PhD. Chair of The Medical Committee Swedish Athletics.