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Running/Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis

Exercise induced anaphylaxis is a syndrome which the eruption of allergic symptoms in response to exercise. People who suffer from this syndrome experience shortness of breath, stomach cramping, headache, dizziness, swelling of the face, tongue and hands, itching and hives within five to 30 minutes following the onset of exercise. The attacks can often lead to life-threatening situations, such as shock and obstruction of the airways. In most cases, exercise anaphylaxis occurs during aerobic activity.

Some forms of exercise induced anaphylaxis are caused by specific foods. These are some of the most common causes of exercised induced anaphylaxis are:

  • Shellfish
  • Nuts
  • Celery
  • Kiwi
  • Seeds
  • Bananas
  • Dairy products
  • Wheat

Oddly enough, it is possible for people to eat these foods without experiencing symptoms, provided that they do not exercise after eating them. It is also possible for them to be symptom-free during exercise, provided that they don’t eat these specific foods. In some cases, exercise induced anaphylaxis can occur if the person has taken an aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication prior to their workout.

The severity of the symptoms of exercise induced anaphylaxis seems to be related to the amount of food that was consumed, when it was eaten, and the intensity of the exercise session. In some cases, exercising in either the extreme heat or extreme cold increased the severity of the symptoms. Women may find that the outbreaks are more frequent and more severe during their menstrual cycles.

The symptoms of exercise induced anaphylaxis are treated with antihistamine and epinephrine. Experts believe that the mast cells in the skin are responsible for the pathophysiology of exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Mast cells are white blood cells that release histamine. When histamine is released into the blood stream, it can cause an increased diameter of the small blood vessels. This can possibly lead to excessively low blood pressure, which may eventually cause shock. Since mast cells are also present in the mucus membrane lining of the pharynx, anyone suffering from exercise induced anaphylaxis may also experience a blocked airway.

Some people take the antihistamine prior to exercise as a preventative measure. There is also a medication on the market called ketotifen which stabilizes the mast cells, thus preventing the release of histamines. Other preventative measures include avoidance of the offending foods prior to exercise, using caution when performing strenuous activities in extreme temperature and modifying activities during the menstrual cycle .

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