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Cycling with a cold: when to stop, when to keep going and how to avoid illness

Cycling with a cold: when to stop, when to keep going and how to avoid illness

While it can be tempting to continue riding with a mild illness, knowing when to stop and when it’s possible to keep going is crucial.…

Thursday, Mar 02

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While it can be tempting to continue riding with a mild illness, knowing when to stop and when it’s possible to keep going is crucial.

After three years of Covid-fuelled sanitisation, this winter has seen ‘traditional’ flu, colds and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) return with vengeance.

In the UK, early-winter data (in the week to 28 November 2022) showed that 1,043,965 working days were lost in a seven-day period across the UK to cough, colds and flu compared to 863,222 lost to Covid during the same week. It was the first time since the pandemic began that Covid wasn’t responsible for the majority of work absences.

But, as cyclists, which symptoms and maladies aren’t strong enough to prevent you from riding, or are so debilitating that riding will only make the situation worse?

Read on through your bloodshot eyes to find out. List your symptoms

“Before answering those questions, it’s important to differentiate between a cold and the flu, because these terms are commonly used interchangeably to describe the same illness or constellation of symptoms,” says Adrian Rotunno, medical director at Tadej Pogańćar’s UAE Team Emirates.

Rotunno’s well versed in dealing with riders at risk of infection, because intense exercise (three-week Grand Tours, for instance) leads to a drop in lymphocyte count (a sub-type of the white blood cells that attack foreign bodies), which makes a rider more susceptible to illness.“A cold – several viral causes (eg, rhinovirus) – and the flu (caused by the influenza virus) are both respiratory illnesses, but caused by […]

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