What are exercise-induced allergic reactions?
An allergy Overview of Allergic Reactions The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system usually reacts to and attacks bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells. An allergy... read more is when your body's immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more reacts to something by mistake, such as harmless food, plants, or medicine. In exercise-induced allergic reactions, the immune system reacts to physical activity, either during or after activity.
Asthma Asthma Asthma is a condition in which the breathing passages (airways) in your lungs get narrow. When the airways are narrow, it's hard to breathe. Breathing often makes a squeaky musical sound called... read more is the most common exercise-induced allergic reaction and is treated with typical asthma medicines
Becoming more fit or gradually increasing how much you exercise can prevent exercise-induced allergic reactions
What happens during an exercise-induced allergic reaction?
Exercising can trigger:
An asthma Asthma Asthma is a condition in which the breathing passages (airways) in your lungs get narrow. When the airways are narrow, it's hard to breathe. Breathing often makes a squeaky musical sound called... read more attack, in which your chest feels tight, you cough, wheeze, and have trouble breathing—this is more likely to occur when the air is cold and dry
An anaphylactic reaction Anaphylactic Reactions Anaphylactic reactions (sometimes called “anaphylaxis”) are the most serious, sudden, and life-threatening allergic reactions. You develop severe symptoms such as an itchy rash over your entire... read more —this is rare, but hard exercise can cause a severe, life-threatening reaction in which you have difficulty breathing or your blood pressure falls, leading to dizziness and collapse
Sometimes an anaphylactic reaction is caused by eating certain foods, especially wheat or shrimp, before exercising.
How do doctors tell if I have an exercise-induced allergic reaction?
Doctors will have you do an exercise challenge test:
Doctors measure how much air you can exhale before and after exercising on a stationary bike or treadmill
How do doctors treat exercise-induced allergic reactions?
Doctors will have you:
Take medicine about 15 minutes prior to starting exercise
Take asthma medicine, if you have asthma
If you had an anaphylactic reaction, avoid whatever triggered it
Carry a syringe of epinephrine, a fast-acting medicine for allergic reactions, with you in case of emergency
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