I?ve had a fungal infection in both big toenails for years. Over the years I?ve tried everything to get rid of it, including tablets which eventually sorted it out. But it came back. Can a fungal infection in my toenails have an effect on my immune system?

The reason I ask this is that if there is a cold going round I get it. I do some light training and two days later the sore throat comes on, then the cold. If I stop riding my bike it goes away, but if I have a late night I wake up with a sore throat and off we

go again.

Any help you can offer with this would be appreciated.

Stephen Carter, email

The fact that you are getting recurrent fungal infections affecting your toenails is most unlikely to influence your immune system. The frequent recurrence of upper respiratory tract infections characterised particularly by sore throats may be indicative of ?underperformance syndrome?. This could have many causes, from overtraining to a post-viral legacy. The training you refer to is light; nevertheless your recovery is incomplete.

Firstly, I recommend you visit your GP to rule out any significant medical conditions by way of a physical examination and blood tests. Assuming these prove negative, I would advise a prolonged period of rest (at least two weeks, with no exercise) followed by the most gradual introduction. This should start with as little as 10 minutes of low-level activity (sub-anaerobic), and can be increased only once tolerated (ie, sore throats do not return).

As you progress, you can add 10-second sprint efforts with three minutes of recovery, to be repeated up to 10 times.

Other important measures include introducing relaxation, regular sleep habits, dietary appraisal to ensure plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and high quality protein (high in vitamin C, zinc and selenium), as well as adequate rehydration. I?d also suggest an honest look at your work/life balance. The herb extract echinacea would also help promote your immune function.

Andrew Meilak

Sports doctor. First-category road racer and medical officer at Westcombe Park Rugby Club