– I have even vomited on people – NRK Sport – Sports news, results and broadcasting schedule


Athletes who vomit in connection with competitions are not a new phenomenon.

Vomit change is rarely far away when Henriette Jæger crosses the finish line on the athletics track. Cross-country skier Jan Thomas Jenssen has also noticed that he often has to vomit after finishing.

For The Olympic winner Espen Bjørnstad (30) is nevertheless different. He often has to throw up when the competition is at its most dramatic.

– At the top of the last long uphill, where you push yourself to the limit, it often comes up. It is clear that it is not a favorable time, he says to NRK.

– I have even thrown up on people and on myself, continued the combined runner.

UGGEN: When Espen Bjørnstad pushes himself, he sometimes breaks down. Here from the season opening at Beitostølen.

Photo: NTB

Spy opening

On the 10-kilometer during the season opener at Beitostølen, things went crazy again.

When it said 2.5 kilometres, it wasn’t just lactic acid that crept in, so did stomach acid:

Despite vomiting, Bjørnstad secured fifth place, and stomach acid has remained in his stomach after the season opener.

– I get a lot of vomiting before I vomit. It sounds very special when I start to get them in the race, laughs the trønder and elaborates:

– It might be two or three times before I throw up. I don’t always throw up either, but when I sat down to play hockey, you fold your stomach. Then things often come up.

And when things come up and out, it can affect competitors.

– I have often hit the feet of people and myself. So it has happened several times, he reveals.

In addition to the fact that the contents of Bjørnstad’s stomach have damaged his own and other people’s shoes and equipment, the vomiting problem has affected the sporting results of the 30-year-old.

– It has been at that level that I have stopped in a ski race, and had to leave the race to throw up, and then continue. Then there is a problem. There have been some times where I have lost and lost positions because this has happened. So it’s annoying and not particularly fun either, says Bjørnstad.

Because it is at the worst imaginable time in the cross-country section that stomach acid comes up in the food pipe and wants out.

– I have struggled quite a lot with it for many years. That things come up when I push myself. Hopefully in the last round then, when things have to be decided. It has been a very bad time to get things up and running. After nine kilometers has been a typical time.

LACTIC ACID AND STOMACH ACID: It is in the cross-country section of the combined competitions that things have gone wrong for Bjørnstad.

Photo: NTB


To reduce the risk of vomiting on the trail, Bjørnstad has long used the drug esomeprazole to keep stomach acid at bay.

– The pills reduce acid production in the stomach. It means that I don’t throw up when I cross-country ski, explains the combined runner.

Bjørnstad has exempted team doctor Anders Heen from the obligation to remain silent, so he can tell NRK about the medical condition:

– Basically, it is not something we see in people who are healthy. I wouldn’t say it’s a common problem, but there are some who struggle with it.

Heen thinks they have found the reason why Bjørnstad vomits loudly and continuously when he pushes himself.

– He has been diagnosed with a tiny medial floor hernia, which means that a bit of the stomach is above the medial floor. Then it can be a little easier for stomach acid to get up into the food pipe when he trains and pushes himself to the max. Then it can provoke vomiting in his case. At least that’s our theory, says the doctor.

– Purely sporting, there is no advantage. This is a top sport with margins, so it is a disadvantage, he states.

The combined runner understood early on that he had to overcome the problem, and he was recommended to try the medicine that suppresses the production of stomach acid.

– I was 17-18 years old when I started to grasp it and figure it out. Until then, I might have just accepted it. Maybe I was in a bit of a bad shape and things like that, but that’s when I started to figure it out.

VOMITING MEDICINE: Bjørnstad takes esomeprazole to

– What does medicine mean to you?

– It means quite a lot. Because it helps me during the race to keep what’s in my stomach down.

Drop the pills

But medication can also cause side effects. After ten years of use, Bjørnstad wanted to see how the body functioned without the pills.

– You don’t always know what it will do to the effect on your body, when you put in something that is not designed for you to have all the time. It will eventually have an effect on your intestines and things like that. Then I found out if it was okay to start finding out if it is possible to minimize it, says the 30-year-old.

Doctor Heen says that it is not desirable to take medication all the time, if you don’t have to.

– That’s why we stopped the trial in the autumn, but then the problems came back a bit again, says Heen.

Therefore, they have now found an intermediate solution, which for now seems to work:

– Now I only take it before competition, but for many years I have taken it every day. So now I’m testing something new so as not to use it all the time, says Bjørnstad.

– It seems that it works quite well now. In addition, it is important to say that we have worked a lot with timing in relation to food intake, and how long before he competes. He does not always vomit and there is not always a direct connection with the medicine. But on average it has probably helped, believes Heen.

Bjørnstad agrees with the team doctor that it is not just the medication that is effective:

It’s a lot about food and what you eat. There are more things than just medicines that help, but it is a lot about what you put in and when you put it in before the race.

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The article is in Norwegian

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