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Volume: 38
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Index: December 2010
Clinical Focus:Respiratory Care
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December 2010
Clinical Focus: Respiratory Medicine
  • Asthma and the athlete
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  • Treatment options for steroid-induced osteoporosis in men
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  • Respiratory infections in winter sports athletes
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  • Airflow function and the metabolic syndrome
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doi: 10.3810/PSM.2009.04.1683
The Physician and Sportsmedicine: Volume 37: No.1
Current Concepts: Recognition and Management of Common Activity-Related Gastrointestinal Disorders
Scott A. Paluska, MD, FACSM
Abstract: Sports medicine clinicians may encounter a wide variety of activity-related gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. The advancing ages and burgeoning obesity rates of the US population have generally increased the prevalence of GI conditions among adults. However, conditioned younger athletes with normal body mass indices also may experience disquieting activity-related GI disorders. While often mild and transient, some of these GI conditions may disrupt exercise routines or pose significant health risks to affected individuals. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs frequently during physical activity and should be empirically treated with activity reduction and dietary modifications in conjunction with antisecretory agents. Persistent or worrisome symptoms merit upper endoscopy, a thorough evaluation for non-GI causes and, rarely, surgery. Altered GI motility commonly occurs during vigorous activities that use dynamic or fluctuating body positions. Dietary and exercise modifications are usually enough to resolve these symptoms. Physical activity may also precipitate GI bleeding from upper and/or lower sources. Although mild or occult bleeding is most common, significant bleeding merits a thorough diagnostic evaluation after stabilization and treatment. Adequate hydration and gradual exercise progression may be particularly helpful to prevent the recurrence of bleeding. The judicious use of medications in conjunction with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug avoidance may also be necessary. Fortunately, most activity-related GI disorders are self-limited and can be managed conservatively. After a brief period of modified activity, clinically stable individuals may progress their activity levels as symptoms allow.

Keywords: obesity; gastroesophageal reflux; altered gastrointestinal motility; gastrointestinal bleeding; exercise

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