My Nose Is Running

Here at Wright State University, we find ourselves located geographically in the middle of the Miami Valley in Dayton, Ohio. To all the locals, the phrases “Sinus Valley” or “Allergy Valley” ring true. Due to the proximity to many rivers and wildlife preserves, this area of Ohio is home to high levels of airborne pollen and other allergens.

As the weather breaks and spring comes upon us, more and more people begin to venture outside and enjoy the great outdoors and outside sports participation begins to increase. Unfortunately, due to the high levels of pollen and allergens in the air, many athletes begin to suffer. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to: itchy, watering, or dry eyes, runny or bloody noses, sore throats, chest tightness, inability to breathe efficiently with moderate levels of exercise, increases in the amount of mucous in the respiratory system, and bouts of uncontrollable sneezing, wheezing, or coughing. All of these symptoms can be annoying and can cause a decrease in athletic performance. Here are a few ways to help beat the elements and perform at your best.

First and foremost, none of these recommendations should take the place of medical advice from your physician. If you have these symptoms and they do not resolve in a timely manner, we urge you to seek medical consultation to evaluate your condition properly. However, we feel that these techniques, when used properly, may help reduce some of the symptoms.

It is our recommendation that if you suffer from extreme symptoms, it would benefit you to have an allergy test done to identify exactly what substances you are sensitive to. Once you have this information, you can look at pollination calendars and avoid parts of the year when these allergens are at the highest concentrations. These pollination cycles stay fairly true from year to year, so workouts can be adjusted as such.

Another way to avoid an increase of symptoms is to monitor the weather when you are exercising. Days where the weather is cooler, damp, and not as windy, decrease the concentration of pollen in the air. Warm, breezy mornings are typically the worst for airborne pollen. Thus you should look at exercising outside on days where airborne pollen is at a minimum.

A simple way to limit the extended exposure to pollen is to make sure that after outside exercise, be sure to shower and wash your exercise clothes. This small step will ensure that you are not carrying around pollen on your skin or clothes that may continue to irritate long after exposure to the outside. It also helps those around you that may be susceptible to allergens.

In regards to medication, we encourage you to discuss their use with your physician prior to starting. Antihistamines are the most common medication used to treat allergies. They work by blocking histamine receptor sites, thus keep inflammation down in the eyes, throat, lungs, etc. Antihistamines can go to work in less than 30 minutes, but their peak effect is found approximately 1-2 hours after taking them. It is recommended that if you are going to take antihistamines, you take them daily and also prior to exposure in order to keep symptoms at bay. The most common side effect with these medications is drowsiness, but you can find both over the counter and prescription medications that are non-drowsy. Another common medication taken to treat allergies is a decongestant. These medications have more side effects and they have limited carry over effect when you cease using them. This means that your symptoms may actually feel worse once you stop taking decongestants, which should be considered. They also tend to increase heart rate and blood pressure, and can cause insomnia, so these medications should definitely be discussed with your physician before using. They are efficient at decreasing inflammation in the nasal tissues and decreasing the size of blood vessels though, which tends to decrease symptoms. These can also be found in over the counter and prescription forms.

We hope that this information has given you some advice on how to avoid letting the effects of allergens keep you from enjoying exercising outdoors. It is a great thing to be able to enjoy activities outside, especially after being stuck in doors for the past few months, and to be able to exercise outside without the effects of allergies only makes it that much sweeter!


Here are some helpful links that provide more information on allergens, the Miami Valley, and beating them before they beat you!


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