Returning to Sports After a COVID-19 InfectionNovember 2, 2020 8:27 am
As COVID-19 moves through an increasing segment of the population, there are more and more people who are wondering how to approach life and various activities once they have recovered from their illness. Stories in the media about compromised lungs, cardiac concerns and other issues have raised considerable concern, particularly among those looking to return to rigorous activities, like children and adolescents returning to sports. In the following blog we address some of the most prevalent questions around returning to sports and other physical activities after recovering from COVID-19.
How long should my child wait before returning to sports?
Like everything related to the new coronavirus, our understanding of its viability is constantly evolving. Currently, the CDC is recommending that you can discontinue isolation and quarantine measures and return to normal activities once you meet the following requirements: you are 10 days out from the onset of symptoms, symptoms are improving/gone, AND you are fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever reducing medication.
In certain cases, when an individual has experienced a severe case, it may be suggested that they refrain from interacting with the public for up to 20 days. Consult a health care professional when making this decision.
Should my child receive a COVID-19 test before returning to sports?
If your child has previously tested positive for with COVID-19 and remains asymptomatic after their recovery, the CDC does not recommend retesting within three months of the date the symptoms first appeared. This is not an inference of immunity, but rather an effort to avoid false positives, as studies show that low levels of the virus may remain in the body for up to three months. In these cases, you would be cleared to return to normal participation after you meet the criteria outlined above—10 days since the start of symptoms, no fever for 24 hours.
If COVID-19 like symptoms develop during the three months following the initial illness and no other cause can be identified by a healthcare provider, retesting may be necessary and that decision should be made in consultation with an infectious disease expert.
In cases where symptoms reappear and further testing is needed, your child should remain in quarantine and refrain from participation in sports or other activities.
What are the risks involved with returning to sports after a COVID-19 infection?
While preliminary testing suggests that we may develop some sort of immunity after being infected with COVID-19, the tests are far from conclusive, and we do not yet know how long that immunity would last. Because of this, especially as you move further from the date of the initial illness, precautions should be taken.
If you are symptom free, 10 days past the initial outbreak of symptoms, and without a fever for 24 hours, the CDC states that you can return to sports and physical activity, and should take the same precautions as you had previously, sticking with regular hand washing and social distances practices.
If you do not feel 100%, or have lingering symptoms, consult a health care professional before returning to intense physical activity. Also, like other situations, consider the activity you or your child is returning to, the environment in which you will recreate, and your close physical contact with others. The longer you are in close, indoor spaces, in close proximity to others, the higher your chance of catching an airborne illness, whether caused by the coronavirus or otherwise.
Are there benefits to returning to sports after having the coronavirus?
Sports and other physical activities deliver many physical and psychological benefits for youth and adults alike. In general, participating in sports helps improve cardiovascular health, strength, body composition and overall fitness. Particularly amongst youth, sports deliver mental benefits that come along with the socialization of team sports and the structure offered by a regular routine. Not only do these benefits support developmental growth, but daily exercise can help boost an immune system, which is especially important after an illness.
How should I approach balancing the risks with the benefits?
Acknowledging the physical and mental health benefits that come with physical activity, and the social stimulation kids receive from group sports, returning to these activities should be a priority. Just as you had beforehand, take precautions to ensure personal safety and limit the spread of the virus. Wear a mask in public, keep a safe distance between you and others when in an arena or public space, and wash your hands and equipment (if shared) after use.
Until more is known about the virus and how it affects previously infected individuals, it’s best to be cautious. That being said, there are many areas of our life that we simply cannot put on hold forever—like exercise and, in our kids’ lives, sports and other forms of socialization. Keep close tabs on local, state and federal guidelines for returning to sports and other public activities, and inform your decisions with the latest information available.
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This post was written by CJ Urgent Care of NJ