Playing sports with the flu?

So I’ve been asked a lot by anxious patients (and sometimes their parents) about whether it’s ok to play sports with the flu.  While I do think there are varying degrees of illness and severity, I did outline some general practices one should keep in mind if attempting to “power thru” the flu.

Below is an excerpt of an interview I conducted with USA Today on playing through the flu:

So could a lingering flu take down this year’s Cinderella? For The Winspoke with Asheesh Gupta, a sports medicine surgeon with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Virginia, to discuss the advice he’d give to a player in Thornwell’s precarious position.

FTW: What would you tell a basketball player who had flu-like symptoms but still needed to play in the biggest game of his life?

Gupta: The thing initially would be to figure out what types of symptoms the patient has. Oftentimes, people will talk about is it below the neck or above the neck? So if it’s above the neck, it may just be a simple cold that’s viral. If they’ve got a stuffy nose, maybe a low-grade fever, that’s something you probably can play through. Obviously you’d want to stay very well hydrated, especially during breaks, and make sure you good take of everything.

If it’s below the neck, the chest area, that’s when you kind of worry. You’d figure out if they have a high-grade fever. That’s when you’d be worried if they have something a bit more severe. Again, obviously, if it’s such an important match, it may be hard to keep them out of the game, but make them fully aware that this might be more severe and require extra precautions. And you may need to see your primary care doctor to see if you need to be on antibiotics.


You can find a link to the full interview transcript below:

We asked a doctor about Sindarius Thornwell (and Michael Jordan) playing through the flu