Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Asthma - What it means for student-athletes

Please further educate yourself on what Asthma is and how to live with it.  Below are only a few suggustions.

When you have asthma, your airways narrow and swell. They produce extra mucus, and breathing becomes difficult. The most common asthma signs and symptoms are coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma symptoms are a minor nuisance. For others, they're a major problem that interferes with daily activities. If you have severe asthma, you may be at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack. (Mayo Clinic staff)

·         1 in 15 Americans suffers from asthma
·         5,000 people a day visit the ER due to asthma
·         Asthma is more common among children than adults
·         Asthma is slightly more prevalent among African American than Caucasians
·         Every day in America 11 people die from asthma, and more than 4,000 deaths a year due to asthma

As a student-athlete you have many demands, but one of your top priorities is your health.  Thousands of student-athletes will be returning to college campuses around the country in the coming weeks, and for many it will be the first time away from home.  So what does this mean?  It means many of these student-athletes have never been responsible for their own well-being including illnesses and medications. 


Parents: Please prepare your young adult by ensuring their medical file is in order and prepared to go off to college.  Maybe even remind your student-athletes of some of their triggers for asthma, and to give extra inhalers to the medial staff.  Help them develop a plan of action for managing their asthma and make sure others know what that plan is.

Athletes:  Make sure to carry your inhaler with you at all times (backpack, purse, etc…), you will be exposed to a number of new environments and knowing your triggers will be important.  Also make sure your doctor knows you are asthmatic and what medications and/or supplements you are taking.  This is not the time to be shy or afraid of what others may think, not disclosing all of your medications or supplements could be hazardous to your health.

Medications (examples)

·         Inhaled corticosteroids (not banned for NCAA)
·         Leukotriene modifiers (not banned for NCAA)
·         Long-acting beta agonists (Permitted if prescribed for NCAA, otherwise banned)
·         Short-acting beta agonists (Permitted if prescribed for NCAA, otherwise banned)
Lastly, as an asthmatic I know the difficulties of managing school, sports, work, and life.  I’ve had asthma since I was a young child, and spent many nights in the hospital as a result.  As I grew older, I became stronger and more knowledgable about how to handle my asthma.  Having asthma can sometimes just suck!  Some days you feel great and have the ability to run, shoot, jump, etc…forever, and then there are the days that your chest feels like it is on fire and you are drowning with no air.  If you have asthma I’m sure you’ve experienced those sleepless nights full of wheezing and shortness of breath.  So be prepared to treat and prevent flare-ups.

Here are my tips for managing your triggers:

·         Avoid smokers at all cost (cigarettes, marijuana, bars, etc…)
·         Keep your dorm, apartment house clean (dust often), but I recommend using mild cleansers as the more potent ones always caused me a great deal of trouble
·         Watch for changing weather, especially warm to cold.  I had some of my worst flair ups in the fall and winter.  If it is cold outside make sure to cover you face to avoid directly inhaling the cold air.
·         Hot humid weather paired with some asthma medications can also create a problem, so stay hydrated.
·         Eat your fruits and vegetables!  They contain antioxidants that help boost immune function.
NCAA student-athletes please make sure to report all medications to your ATC and medical staff.

Helpful links:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are you ready for the HEAT?

August is fast approaching and thousands of freshmen will be stepping on a college campus for their first time.  Football, volleyball, and soccer teams around the country will be preparing for a grueling season by initiating the dreaded, two-a-day practices.  Across the country student-athletes are hitting the weight room, running outside, and trying to find the next best thing to prepare for next season.  As a sports community lets pull together to make sure our teammates, friends, neighbors, coaches, etc… are prepared and educated for the summer off-season workouts and the ensuing fall preparation and games.
So what it’s hot… When it is hot outside you tend to sweat, and when it is humid outside you tend to sweat.  Those two paired together equals the air being saturated with water vapor, sweat won’t evaporate if the air is filled with water.  So it will probably fall to the ground before it has a chance to cool the skin.  The body doesn’t get any cooler, and as a result the body continues sweating. Obviously the hotter and more humid the weather, the more sweaty you get and hence the potential for dehydration and other heat related illnesses.
Prevention is better than treatment – Heat stroke can be fatal.  You can go from heat exhaustion to potentially fatal heatstroke in minutes.  So let’s get prepared, Hydration is the first step to being prepared, but having an understanding of your body and how it responds to the heat is just as important.
·         Allow the body time to adjust to the hot and humid conditions.  Try ramping up by training in hot, humid conditions.  Arriving 7-10 days prior to practice in the conditions can be helpful as well.
·         Understand your body’s sweat response and practice drinking strategies while training.  Develop a plan for yourself and stick to it. 
·         Begin practice or games well-hydrated and start drinking early.  Smaller amounts of fluid more often are likely to better maintain your hydration status verses long periods with no fluids.
·         Water may not be enough in some situations, so try mixing in sports drinks in hot and humid conditions to help replace electrolytes. 
·         The loss of water and electrolytes from the body has a few negatives but most notable is the decrease in blood volume and resultant reduction in oxgen transport resources.  So are you hydrated?  Check here.
Those who have a prior history of heat illness, have other underlying illnesses (such as diabetes), and who take certain medications (including antihistamines and Ritalin), are at higher risk.  Signs of heat related illness:
·         Heavy sweating
·         Paleness
·         Muscle cramps
·         Tiredness
·         Weakness
·         Dizziness
·         Headache
·         Nausea and vomiting
·         Fainting
·         Fast, weak pulse
·         Fast, shallow breathing
·         Athletes who show any of these symptoms should stop working out or be forced to stop working out or practice immediately
·         Take them inside or to a shady place and given cool drinks
·         If the athlete begins to exhibit changes in thought processes or behavior, call 911 immediately

Long story short you are better off leaving them alone, but especially products sold as weight loss products.  Weight loss products typically have several sources of stimulants included in the product.  Stimulants often speed metabolism, heart rate, and blood pressure; the increased activity in the body produces extra heat (especially in hot and humid conditions). Under these conditions the blood vessels in the skin constrict, preventing the body from cooling itself efficiently.
Ultimately, heat illnesses are preventable injuries. Consequently, it is the responsibility of those caring for athletes, the parents, coaches, trainers, and team doctors, to ensure that athletes are educated in preventative strategies and are properly monitored during training or competition in the heat.

Helpful Websites

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What can you take? Why not ask a Sports RD!

Drug Free Sport and the REC are pleased to announce that we will be partnering with CPSDA and their members to help address the question of, "what can I take or do?"  It is our goal to bring food to the forefront and avoid all unnecessary adverse reactions and positive drug test due to dietary supplements.  Athletes on all levels share one common goal and that is to be the best at what they do.  The REC will continue to stay dedicated to helping protect the integrity of sportsmanship in all sports. We exists to provide up-to-date, confidential and accurate information on dietary supplements, dangerous and/or banned (prohibited) substances, and provide educational materials to empower athletes to make healthy and responsible decisions.  We will now also be able to provide more concrete information and direct you to the professional near you.

CPSDA Statement of Purpose
The Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA) represents the vast majority of Advanced Practice Registered Dietitians in the United States who work full-time with athletes in colleges, professional sports, Olympic training centers, the U.S. Military and in law enforcement.  CPSDA’s member-driven national not-for-profit organization speaks with one voice on behalf of America’s leading Sports RDs and is founded on the fundamental “food first” principle that “whole foods are the best fuel,” and that athletic programs operating at every level of competition will best serve their athletes when employing the full-time services of CPSDA-member Sports RDs.  Beyond the improved performance outcomes expected from more efficient recovery when employing the services of a Sports RD, most anti-doping experts agree that the key to minimizing “doping” is to offer effective alternatives, one of the best of which is to employ Sports RDs to manage the full range of foods and permissible dietary supplements for the athletic program.  CPSDA contends that the cost of adding the services of a full-time on-site Sports RD is offset by more efficient management of feeding and dietary supplementation, with the added measurable benefit of helping athletic programs recruit and/or retain the services of athletes.  The CPSDA is dedicated to providing Continuing Education programs to keep Sports RDs apprised of new developments in our rapidly-evolving global food and dietary supplement supply; developing new education programs to prepare Associate and Student CPSDA members to become reliable and responsible Sports RDs; and to partner with education-based organizations like the National Center for Drug Free Sport to restore and advance our firm belief that a varied balance of healthy whole foods is the optimal method of fueling athletic performance.                
---CPSDA Board of Directors, July 6, 2011