n International SportMed Journal - Clinical investigation of athletes and gastrointestinal symptoms : where is the starting line? : review article

Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1528-3356



The majority of athletes experience gastrointestinal symptoms either during or shortly after exercise. Moreover, physical activity is known to have profound effects on gastrointestinal functions in athletes, which may be caused by physiological adaptations. Organ damage may be induced either by overstrenuous exercise or underlying gastrointestinal diseases, and the differential diagnosis usually requires comprehensive medical investigations. <br>The aim of this article is to review and evaluate diagnostic investigations in athletes presenting with gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms are determined by the type and intensity of the exercise, as well as age, gender, training status and dietary factors. Endurance athletes are most commonly affected, and their clinical presentation ranges from mild symptoms, such as heartburn or diarrhoea, to severe manifestations of acute gastrointestinal diseases, including acute abdominal pain and haematochezia. Clinical, biochemical, functional and endoscopic diagnostic procedures are therefore guided by the nature and history of symptoms, as well as their temporal relationship to exercise. <br>In conclusion, medical investigations are indicated when symptoms persist after periods of rest, and when they are severe or life-threatening. Diagnostic algorithms do not radically differ in athletes and non-athletes, but physiological changes and adaptations to exercise must be considered during medical investigations.

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