To protect your health and the health of your opponents, your state commission mandates that you have blood tests done to detect the presence of certain infectious diseases that are spread easily through blood. Because combat sports invariably draw blood, this is of great concern to the fighter and their opponent. For example, in boxing, punches are thrown to the face and the body, which can draw blood. In MMA fighting, punches and kicks also draw blood. In addition, wrestling and take-down maneuvers bring the fighters within close contact with each other, many times after the blood is flowing. This is why these tests are imperative to facilitate healthy practices and protect both fighters’ health. These services can be performed with ease and timeliness by our combat athlete doctors.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that eventually leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). As a bloodborne virus, any contact with the blood of an infected person can spread the virus. As the virus replicates itself, the viral load of the exposed fighter begins to show much higher levels. Approximately eight weeks after exposure, while many people show no indication of being exposed, others will develop flu-like symptoms. Eventually, a full pharmaceutical protocol has to be put into place to preserve the person’s life. This test will detect the presence of both HIV antibodies and antigens to determine if the fighter carries this virus.
This is another infection easily transferred by coming in contact with blood from an infected person. The infection causes inflammation and enlargement of the liver, and it can last for weeks or progress into a chronic illness like cancer or cirrhosis of the liver. In most cases, this infection shows no symptoms, so the best way to diagnose it is to get tested. This test will detect the protein (antigens) that are present with the virus.
The hepatitis C virus causes this infection, and it is also spread by exposure to contaminated blood. This virus can lead to inflammation and damage to the liver, and this is the only form of hepatitis that currently has no vaccines against it. As a result, the hepatitis C virus can lay dormant for a time and eventually develop into serious and chronic conditions.
As a service to you by our combat athlete doctors, we can order these tests through a laboratory near you. That lab will handle the paperwork, draw the blood necessary, then run a panel of tests that will look for indicators of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. If the results come back negative, we can clear you for this portion of the mandated tests. However, if you test positive for any of these diseases, we can refer you to a specialist who can work with you to establish the appropriate protocols with any required follow ups with our combat athlete doctors.
HIV/HepB/HepC/CBC Lab Work
One of the services we offer as combat athlete doctors, is to order the HIV/HepB/HepC/CBD lab work through a local laboratory to protect our fighters. We order this panel of tests because it is required before we can clear a fighter for a competition. It also protects the fighter and their opponent.
Because of the nature of combat fighting, blood is often produced by one or both of the opponents. This blood may carry potentially fatal viruses. By testing for these pathogens and being proactive in their detection, we can help protect all fighters’ health. Here is a summary of what is included in the lab work we order, the reason for the test, and what we look for.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This virus eventually leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Once the victim comes into contact with the infected person and the virus is transferred, the HIV will begin to replicate itself. The infected viral load (the amount of replicated copies of the virus) and p24 antigen begin to show in high levels. Around eight weeks later, the body begins producing antibodies, and the viral load levels begin to come down. Infected people may show flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all. The only way to be sure you do not have HIV is to test for it. The lab tests we order will check for HIV antibodies and HIV antigens.
This disease is caused by the hepatitis B virus and leads to inflammation and the enlargement of the liver. This infection can develop into a chronic illness like cirrhosis of the liver or cancer, or it may be acute and last only for a few weeks. We include the test for hepatitis B surface antigens (proteins) because, in most cases, the infected show no symptoms.
This infection leads to damage to and inflammation of the liver and is caused by the hepatitis C virus. Unfortunately, this is the only type of hepatitis with no vaccine to prevent it, and it can either lie dormant in a fighter’s system or develop into a serious condition. When you are exposed to hepatitis C, your body begins to create antibodies, and in our lab testing, we check for those hepatitis C antibodies.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This is the most commonly ordered blood test by doctors. It checks your levels of
- Platelets – The component of your blood that travels to a cut or other damage and “sticks” in order to cause a clot that will stop the bleeding.
- Red blood cells – The component of your blood that carries oxygen from your lungs to your bloodstream, then carries carbon dioxide back to your lungs to be exhaled.
- White blood cells – The component of your blood that fights off viruses and infections.
This is a common test, and it is recommended that even people without symptoms of HIV should have this test done every 12 months.
Optometrist exams are extremely important for the long-term health of any combat fighter. Even though all state commissions do not mandate these exams, we believe every fighter should consider them before they step into the ring, and here’s an example of why.
The New York State Athletic Commission once performed a study of 74 boxers applying for a new or renewal license over a two-year period. Each fighter was required to complete a dilated ocular exam at the Sports Visions Institute of the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital. Here were their findings:
- 66% of fighters had at least one ocular injury;
- 58% of fighters had vision-threatening injuries like damage to the angle, lens, macula, or peripheral retina;
- 19% of fighters had angle abnormalities;
- 19% had pathologic cataracts – 70% of these were posterior subcapsular;
- 24% of the fighters had retinal tears; and
- Six boxers had macular lesions.
You can understand the need for diagnosing these conditions and taking steps to correct the problem before permanent damage is done to the fighter’s vision. If you were to decide to proceed with an exam from an optometrist, here are just a few of the tests you may encounter during your exam.
Visual Acuity Test
You will read letters from a sign that is placed a small distance away from you. Then, using one eye at a time, the optometrist will have you read through the letters and note how each of your eye’s vision compares to the standard 20/20 vision.
Pupillary Reaction Test
The way your pupils respond to light is critical to your vision. Using a small light, the optometrist will check your pupils’ responsiveness. At the same time, the doctor will also look for signs of dry eye, bacterial debris, or corneal scratches.
Slit Lamp Test
During this test, the optometrist will magnify the surface of your eye by shining a vertical bar of light into your eye. He uses this to inspect for any abnormalities on the cornea, lens, and iris. This test takes a few minutes, so the doctor will usually instruct you to stare at their ear during the procedure.
The doctor will dilate your eyes and examine the retina and optic nerve. You will be sensitive to sunlight after this test.
Book an appointment with our combat athlete doctors today to get yourself combat ready.