Could You Be Allergic to Exercise? A Doctor Reveals

This is more than just hating to work out, TBH!

While the feelings of accomplishment, the weighing scale tipping in the right direction and the post-workout adrenalin rush are enough motivation to stick to a fitness regime, it is easier said than done!

However, if intense exercise on the treadmill or in the gym leaves you nauseous or if you often feel faint after a workout, this could be a sign of a serious issue! Dr Sandeep Patil, chief intensivist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan says, "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. So what triggered an anaphylaxis reaction in Sunil?’. Surprisingly, it was the exercise."

Can people be allergic to exercise?

"Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis is a rare condition that 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 with such allergies occur while running and jogging or any strenuous activities such as dancing, volleyball, skiing, and gym exercises. However, there are people who may suffer from the less serious exercise allergy called a Cholinergic Urticaria’ - a common type of heat rash, which differs from Anaphylaxis which starts and ends 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 of such reactions?

"Common symptoms include the typical symptoms of an allergic reaction, including but not limited to itchy skin, hives, Angioedema (swelling underneath the skin), flushing, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal symptoms (eg., nausea and diarrhoea), headache, and loss of consciousness," he adds.

What can be done to stay away from these reactions and yet continue exercises?

Dr Patil says, "Unfortunately, the only way to prevent such reactions is that people who may have the tendency to have such a reaction, resort to light workouts. They can change the type of exercise regime they follow in consultation with their doctor. Swimming is said to be a good option as well. It is said that swimming has not been linked with any ‘exercise-induced Anaphylaxis’. Also, it is important to keep track of what food, medicines, etc., works for you before you start your exercise. It is best to not eat anything six to eight hours before exercising. So, the best time for exercise will be morning. Also, avoid working out in extreme weather conditions."