I recently agreed to speak to a magazine about my allergies, which are greatly exacerbated by exercise. Basically if I eat a small amount of dairy and am at home, or sitting down somewhere in a restaurant, chances are I’ll know about it, but will suffer no worse than a tingling mouth, asthma, and skin rashes the next day, once my stomach has had a chance to work on it overnight. If I were to consume a lot of dairy or nuts I would have an anaphylactic attack, but am usually OK with tiny trace amounts.
However, if I go out for a brisk walk, run or do any exercise I could be in for a nasty shock. All three of my anaphylactic attacks have taken place after eating out somewhere and then doing some exercise, whether that is walking or jogging. I must have eaten a small trace of an allergen, probably dairy, and the reaction that takes place in my body when my heart rate rises does something to exacerbate or bring on an anaphylactic attack.
It is scary – as twice I’ve been out walking on my own when it’s happened. It starts like an asthma attack and builds, with a streaming nose and eyes like a sudden and horrendous cold. The symptoms come on very quickly the faster I walk to get home or back to civilisation the worse they get. When my throat starts to constrict it gets so bad that I can’t even speak and I get panicked and scared.
I think the journalists have used a little bit of artistic licence here with the headline but it certainly catches the eye, and if it sparks debate and gets people talking about allergies it isn’t so bad. For a laugh at me looking miserable in a gym read more here: “Why one woman is forced to be a couch potato”.
I am certainly not a couch potato, but I do have to be really careful when and where I do exercise, and what and where I eat before hand. Being allergic to latex means gyms can be very dangerous as people use the rubber stretch bands and lots of the handle bars of equipment can be made of rubber. Yoga mats too can be dangerous. My yoga mat is latex free but lots of them are made of rubber for it’s non stick qualities so I have to be really careful. I also play tennis and tennis balls contain latex too! I must be mad, but by washing my hands afterwards I’m usually OK, and at worst get a rash where I’ve touched my skin.
Dr Shah in America has recently shared his findings at a conference as he is seeing more and more people with exercise induced anaphylaxis to foods they can eat perfectly OK if they’re not exercising.
As with coping with all allergies, being prepared is the watch word. Do you know anyone with exercise induced anaphylaxis? Do you have it? How does yours take hold? I’d love to hear from anyone else who knows anything about this rare condition.