If you have ever said words like ” running gives me hives “, you are not really talking about an allergy to physical exercise as such, but a null predisposition to want to play sports. The reality is that, officially, there may be a type of allergy related to exercise or, more specifically, an anaphylaxis induced by physical exercise.
Officially diagnosed in 1979 and with just 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, this allergy could be classified within the category of rare, affecting mature men and women alike. In our country it is estimated that there are about 14 million allergy sufferers ( mainly to pollens) , many of whom the mask against covid-19 can come in handy.
The symptoms of this are the usual ones and develop around 30 or 60 minutes after starting to practice it. Among them we find an increase in body temperature, but also itching and dizziness, in addition to quite recognizable symptoms of allergic reactions, distributed in various parts of the body, according to data from the Andalusian Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology.
They can be cutaneous, such as diffuse redness, itching and hives, in addition to angioedema; There may also be respiratory symptoms, such as rhinitis, bronchospasm, or laryngeal edema; gastrointestinal, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or cramps; and cardiovascular such as hypotension, tachycardia, different types of arrhythmias or, reaching very extreme cases, heart attack or cardiac arrest.
Is it really allergy to exercise?
We are sorry to disappoint those who have clung to the burning nail of this allergy so as not to go out for a run, because sport is not in itself the cause of the allergy. The culprits are certain types of food, common suspects in terms of food allergies, which would be responsible for this chain reaction not entirely clear.
Certain hypotheses allude to an increase in blood flow during exercise, which could displace sensitive immune cells (so to speak, put them on alert). On the other hand, some proteins in the intestine would behave in a certain way during physical activity, by interacting with foods or medications responsible for the allergic reaction.
Therefore, when we talk about exercise- induced anaphylaxis , we must know that the initiators of this are going to be the foods that we have ingested prior to sports practice and to which we will already have a previous sensitivity -whether diagnosed or not-, being some of the most frequent the following:
- Wheat flour
- Certain fruits, such as grapes, apples, oranges, or peaches.
- Certain vegetables such as lettuce, celery, tomato, or fennel.
- Some nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, and peanuts .
- Various products of animal origin, especially mollusks (prawns, prawns, oysters …) and sometimes eggs, cow’s milk
Find the diagnosis
This anaphylactic reaction does not always develop, nor does it have to do directly with the amount of sport performed, whether it occurs or not, but it is susceptible to occurrence. For this, it would be necessary to pay attention to four different diagnostic criteria , such as a couple of syncope episodes; generalized urticaria with medium-sized hives; a collapse not linked to visceral dysfunctions or anaphylaxis itself, in this case unrelated to elevations in body temperature such as hot showers or fever.
Once entering the consultation itself, we must be clear that the diagnosis of these anaphylaxis is established by the patient’s medical history, who will undergo various tests for food allergens, sometimes resorting to stress tests (with intake and without intake allergen), and we must emphasize that any treatment to avoid this anaphylactic reaction to exercise is preventive, that is, the food in question responsible for the allergy should be avoided in the hours prior to exercise.
In the event that the consumption of these is unavoidable, or that they have been consumed, it is advisable for people who suffer from this type of allergies to have on hand certain medications such as antihistamines or chromones, in addition to being aware of their condition, for which reason You should teach him how to use adrenaline in case symptoms reappear. In addition, those people who are asthmatic , even those who have allergic asthma, will be more susceptible to being able to suffer these reactions.
Now that we know a little more about how to take care of ourselves when running, it may be time to go back to the allergist’s consultation and get rid of doubts about what feels bad and thus forget about allergy to physical exercise.