Runny nose while exercising? Causes and Available Treatment
The importance of exercise to your health and overall wellbeing can never be understated. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, working out also helps build strong bones and muscles. It also improves your mood and also decreases feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression.
While it’s almost impossible to argue against the benefits of physical exercise, the truth is that there are some factors that prevent you from making the most out of your workouts. One of these factors is a runny nose, also known as exercise-induced rhinitis.
In some cases, a stuffy runny nose will only cause a little embarrassment and inconvenience, especially when you have to constantly blow your nose as you exercise. However, in other cases, exercise-induced rhinitis can cause congestion, watery eyes, sneezing, and post-nasal drip.
What causes exercise-induced rhinitis?
Although the exact cause of exercise-induced rhinitis or allergic rhinitis is not known, many believe that pollution is a major factor. Allergic reactions to allergens such as pollen and dust can trigger the production of a watery discharge by your nose. When you exercise, you breathe deeper and faster which significantly increases your exposure to different air pollutants.
There is also a non-allergenic aspect to exercise-induced rhinitis. For instance, there are environmental exposures that can irritate your nostrils but don’t necessarily cause allergies. Examples include strong odors and perfumes, secondhand smoke and smog. Whether it’s allergenic or non-allergenic, the results are similar – congestion and swollen nasal membranes.
Who is at the highest risk of allergic rhinitis?
The reason why some people may be oversensitive to allergens is not fully understood. However, it is not uncommon to see some whose families have a history of allergies also being affected by the same allergies. So if there is a history of allergic rhinitis in your family, there is a high likelihood of you also developing the same.
If that is the case, you will be referred to as a person who is “atopic”. In other words, you have “atopy”. A person who is atopic tends to be genetically wired to develop one or more allergic conditions. Such a person has a heightened immune response to various allergens which causes the body to produce higher levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.
There are also environmental factors that can increase your risk of allergic rhinitis. For example, if you have grown in a house where there are smokers or have had exposure to dust mites in your younger years, your risk will be higher.
How do I avoid having a runny nose when exercising?
While exercise-induced rhinitis is definitely an inconvenience, it is not really a major health issue. If you are struggling with a runny nose when working out, you may want to talk to your general practitioner about the various potential treatments. A nasal spray containing ipratropium bromide can also be effective at reducing congestion.
What are the natural immediate treatments of allergic rhinitis?
Since an allergy is just an exaggerated immune response to various substances that are not necessarily harmful, it’s not really something to be scared of. However, there are some natural treatments that can give you some relief from symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Here are some of the natural remedies:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
You can obtain this essential fatty acid through your diet. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can lower the rate at which inflammatory chemicals are produced in your body. In fact, one study showed a link between sufficient omega-3 fatty acids in a diet and a reduction in the chances of catching hay fever. They can be found in flax seeds, fish oil, and walnuts.
- Identification of food sensitivities
If you notice that your symptoms get worse after eating certain foods, you may want to replace some of those foods in your diet. For example, if you have lactose intolerance, you will notice that you feel more congested when you consume dairy products. Some people who are allergic to grass pollens may also react to wheat, tomatoes, carrot, peanuts, eggs, and pork.
- Nasal irrigation
Also known as a nasal rinse, this remedy involves the use of saltwater to clean and clear nasal passages. According to research, it can be very effective for people who have allergies.
Extracts from this herb have been used in treating allergies, coughs, asthma, migraines and stomach cramps. Just like many other allergy treatments, it blocks the action of inflammatory chemicals that cause allergic reactions. This herb should not be used in its raw form because it has certain harmful alkaloids. Always choose products that are indicated as PA-free and follow your physician’s instructions.
- Apple cedar vinegar
This is another great allergy reliever. It helps in the reduction of mucus production and also cleanses your lymphatic system. The easiest way to take it is to mix a tablespoon with a cup of hot water and a bit of honey.
Acupuncture is known to cure various health issues such as digestive problems, depression, muscle weakness, pain, and immune deficiency. It has also proved to be an effective reliever of allergy symptoms.
- Nettle leaf
This leaf is a great allergy reliever that prevents your body from producing histamine. Although it’s possible to find the leaf growing in your locality, buying it is definitely the easiest way to find it. It is sold in capsule form or as a whole. It all depends on how you want to use it. You can also add the leaves to your soups, salads or stews just like you would other leafy vegetables.
These plant pigments which include beta-carotene are very effective when it comes to relief from allergies. In fact, one of the causes of inflammation in our airways is a deficiency of carotenoids in our diets. Carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are great sources of carotenoids.
What are the immediate medical treatments of allergic rhinitis?
- In most cases, allergic rhinitis responds to pharmacotherapy. A patient with intermittent symptoms can be treated with oral antihistamines or decongestants. For patients with chronic symptoms, they may find intranasal steroid sprays as the most appropriate remedy.
- There are also second-generation antihistamines which can also help in alleviating the various signs of allergic rhinitis. They include cetirizine, desloratadine, levocetirizine, loratadine, and fexofenadine. These are made popular by their safety profile. Your doctor should advise you on the appropriate dosage. The directions are also clearly indicated on the labels.
Many people who have exercise-induced rhinitis think that they are allergic to exercise. Nothing could be further from the truth. The great thing is that there are natural remedies as well as medical treatments that can give you relief from most forms of allergic rhinitis.