Health

What We Can Learn From This Olympian's Health Issue on the Track

August 19th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

At its best, Olympic talent makes some people seem truly magical. A glimpse of Simone Biles on the gymnastics floor is an obvious (and excellent) example of this.

But even supremely talented Olympians can't always ignore their biological functions during significant moments in their lives. French Olympic race walker Yohann Diniz learned this on Friday, when he soiled himself in the middle of a race:

BuzzFeed reported that the heat may have played a role in what happened, as he was racing in 86 degree weather. Diniz put a sponge on his shorts after bleeding and defecating on himself, but ultimately collapsed onto the ground. He got up after several seconds, however, and ended up finishing seventh in the race after another racer became disqualified, according to Bleacher Report U.K.:

As Huffngton Post editor Jordan Turgeon pointed out, Diniz deserves credit for continuing the race:

Diniz also isn't the only athlete to have experienced this. Swedish distance runner Mikael Ekvall famously had a similar experience during a race several years ago:

We don't know the cause of Diniz's moment of illness (and we're not in the position to hand out an armchair diagnosis). However, this is a good opportunity to talk about gastroenterology and gut-related illnesses — topics that don't get a lot of play in the media.

In 2013, a study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that extreme heat can create an increased risk for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) triggers, with the highest risk for developing infectious gastroenteritis taking place after a week of extreme heat. Dr. Alan Moss, a gastroenterologist who did not participate in the study, told Live Science, at the time of publication, that increased fluid loss from heat may play a role in aggravating one's gastrointestinal tract.

"If you're not keeping up with replacing these fluid losses, it's the dehydration that's making you feel lousier," Dr. Moss said.

And it's worth nothing that holding in a bowel movement can have some health costs.

As ATTN: previously noted, poop is the body's way of filtering out waste so the longer you hold in your poop from the time that you need to hit the toilet, the longer your body holds onto toxins that are meant to exit your system through bowel movements.

"We've found people who hold their poop longer because of their profession — nurses, teachers, or truck drivers, for example, or people who are afraid to go at work — can get into bad habits that cause constipation or dysfunction in the muscles used for pooping," Dr. Kyle Staller, a gastroenterologist, previously told Prevention.com.

[H/T BuzzFeed]