The reality of exercise induced allergies

We like to think that there are two groups of people where fitness is concerned – those who embrace it and those who would rather not even think about it. But there are other lesser-known groups of those who are unable to exercise due to allergies triggered by intense physical movement.

These conditions consist of exercise induced rhinitis, anaphylaxis, asthma and urticaria. And none of them are uncommon. Here’s a snapshot of each condition.

Exercise induced rhinitis (EIR)

Exercise induced rhinitis is when someone experiences hayfever-like symptoms such as a runny nose after exercising. One study in the U.S. surveyed individuals with and without nasal allergy who exercised regularly and found that 40% suffered from indoor EIR, which affected their athletic performance. The study also found that a runny nose was the most common symptom and that indoor and outdoor EIR can affect those with or without a nasal allergy.

Exercise induced anaphylaxis (EIA)

Exercise induced anaphylaxis is a hypersensitive reaction triggered by exercise and is considered life threatening. Early symptoms include hives, which is usually followed by nausea, vomiting, wheezing and constriction of the throat.

EIA symptoms aren’t just triggered by high-intensity exercise. Even moderate and mild intensity exercises are known to be triggers with symptoms flaring up 30 minutes into the exercise routine. People with EIA are generally recommended to avoid high cardiovascular exercises.

Exercise induced asthma (EIA)

Exercise induced asthma is common in children and is caused by high-intensity physical exercise such as running. In most cases, symptoms occur after and not during the exercise. These symptoms are similar to asthmatic symptoms and include wheezing, coughing and the narrowing of airways. Unlike asthma EIA is manageable and can be treated if properly diagnosed.

Cholinergic urticaria (EIU)

It is mistakenly believed that cholinergic urticaria is caused by perspiration when it is in fact triggered by a rise in body heat causing the release of histamines. Cholinergic urticaria can occur during exercise but also during sleep. A typical symptom is hives, which are usually triggered by jogging, aerobic workouts, hot showers, and the consumption of spicy food.

If you frequently experience any of these symptoms, consult a doctor who can help with diagnosis and the right treatment.