You can’t run, you can’t hide: Living with exercise-induced anaphylaxis

exercise-induced anaphylaxis

You can’t run, you can’t hide: Living with exercise-induced anaphylaxis

As each year passes, we learn more about allergies as scientists seek a cure to end all symptoms. But it’s still surprising to find out the number of rare and strange allergies that exist. You probably know someone who is deathly allergic to nuts or intolerant to dairy. But have you ever met someone allergic to exercise?

What is exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIA) is a rare disorder where anaphylaxis occurs after physical activity. It’s extremely uncommon but potentially fatal for those who have it because it can happen after any form of exercise. Usually, it occurs after more vigorous exercise, but not always. In fact, reactions can be sporadic and unpredictable. 

Some people experience symptoms even after minor exertion like raking leaves or dancing. But there are other factors which can contribute and trigger anaphylaxis in this condition including food, weather, hormonal changes, and medications. 

Food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis

Eating certain foods before exercise might bring on an allergic reaction. The typical culprits are peanuts, shellfish, tomatoes, corn, and wheat, which are strongly associated with EIA. We call this food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis.  

What are the symptoms of EIA?

Because the reaction is often severe anaphylaxis, symptoms can appear mild at first but accelerate rapidly to become life-threatening. Common symptoms include:

  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, or wheezing
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cramps

Without treatment, people with EIA might progress into shock, loss of consciousness, or cardiac arrest. If you see any of these symptoms in someone, they might not have EIA, but it’s likely they’re suffering an anaphylactic reaction. You should call the emergency services immediately.

Preventing reactions

The good news is anaphylaxis is very treatable when you take immediate steps. Taking an EpiPen when exercising will ease anxiety and help you react quickly if an allergic reaction starts. It’s also advisable to avoid triggers, like certain foods and medications, to reduce the chances of anaphylaxis. 

The human body is so complex that even after centuries of learning we still don’t understand it. The fact something as vital to our health as exercise can be fatal for some people is mind-blowing. But, fortunately for most, there are plenty of treatments available so a serious condition like this doesn’t have to get in the way of life. 

If you’ve suffered an allergic reaction and you’re not sure why, get in touch with a consultant at the London Allergy and Immunology Centre. They can find out what you’re allergic to and give you the best way to manage your allergies so you can go on with your life. All you need to do is book an appointment here.

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