The Athlete and the GI Tract

by R. Rafoth MD
Sun Mountain Lodge - 1/2004

Most Common Exercise Related Gastrointestinal System Disorders

I. Heartburn, Dyspepsia, and Chest Pain

Upper GI (mainly esophageal) symptoms occur in from 20 to 50 % of athletes and consist of:

These can be a particular problem as you try to decide:

Gastroesophageal Reflux is the most common culprit but can be aggravated by gastric distention/retention from delayed gastric emptying.

II. Diarrhea and Rectal Urgency - also known as "runner's trots", this is mainly a runner's issue.

III. GI blood loss (and anemia) - again mainly a runner's issue, and long distance runners at that.

Anemia in runner's has been a well know problem for many years - various studies have shown

And the blood loss can be quite rapid and severe. In one case, autopsy results indicated the cause of death was GI hemorrhage from hemorrhagic gastritis.

Next section - Benefits of Exercise on the Gastrointestinal System

Questions on content or suggestions to improve this page are appreciated.

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