When we say some people are allergic to exercise, we do not mean in a lazy way. They are not trying to escape the daily grind of sweating it out. But for them, exercising can be fatal!
Dr Sandeep Patil, chief intensivist at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan explains that doing intense exercise on the treadmill, or in the gym, can make some people feel nauseous. Sometimes, after a particular workout, they may even faint or collapse, and this could be a serious issue.
To understand the concept of exercise allergy, one needs to first understand its manifestation. In some people, it causes a severe reaction called ‘anaphylaxis’. “Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that needs to be treated right away. If you have an anaphylactic reaction, you need an epinephrine (adrenaline) shot urgently and emergency medical aid. Left untreated, it can be deadly,” the doctor explains.
What happens when people are allergic to exercise?
“Exercise-induced anaphylaxis is a rare condition which can cause hives, fainting, vomiting, and difficulty in breathing. These need immediate medical aid, and the symptoms can last up to four hours after working out. In some cases, it can be triggered by certain foods eaten just before exercise, like peanuts, shellfish, eggs, or any food item that a person could be allergic to,” says Dr Patil.
In most cases, such allergies occur while running and jogging, or doing any strenuous activity like dancing, playing volleyball, skiing, gym exercises, etc.
“There are people who may suffer from the less serious exercise allergy called ‘cholinergic urticaria’ — a common type of heat rash, which differs from anaphylaxis, starting and ending with the skin reaction. This condition can strike spontaneously; even some marathon runners sometimes come down with a bad case of itches after jogging or running.”
What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms include, but not limited to, itchy skin, hives, angioedema (swelling underneath the skin), flushing, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea and diarrhea), headache, and loss of consciousness, warns the doctor.
Can one continue to exercise?
Unfortunately, the only way to prevent such reactions is for people to resort to light workouts. They can change the type of exercise regime in consultation with their doctor. Swimming is said to be a good option.
“Swimming has not been linked with any exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Also, it is important to keep track of what food, medicines, etc., work for you before you start your exercise. It is best to not eat anything six to eight hours prior to exercising. So, the best time will be in the morning. Also, avoid working out in extreme weather conditions,” the doctor advises.