It’s a new year and most of us are trying to stick to those resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight. Those resolutions are good, but keeping them for those with allergies and asthma can be a challenge. Many allergy patients find that, instead of feeling good, they are actually feeling worse. The reason may be due to the one thing that should be helping: exercise.
Not only can new workout routines be difficult for those with asthma, but several allergens can also be found lurking in health clubs, making this healthy activity bothersome for the more than 40 million Americans that suffer from allergies. By understanding what triggers their symptoms, those with allergies and asthma can find ways to remain physically active and still feel good.
To help those with New Year’s resolutions succeed, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has identified five common allergy and asthma exercise ailments, with tips on how to overcome them.
If you are experiencing shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and unusual fatigue, you might have exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (EIB). This condition affects about 10 percent of Americans. Find relief by using your prescribed preventative inhaler before you begin your workout routine and keeping your rescue inhaler available for unexpected problems. Breathing through your nose, rather than your mouth, can also help. Be sure to track your symptoms and report recurrent problems to your physician.
Whether you’ve signed up for a dieting meal plan, or are opting for foods with less calories, be sure to always read nutrition labels before you consume new items. Many products contain hidden food allergens, such as milk, wheat, and eggs. Energy bars can also be loaded with allergens, including soy and nuts.
While most exercise machines will not cause you to sneeze or wheeze, you might find that rubber mats, medicine balls, and some rubber-coated free weights might. Latex can often be found in these items, causing those with latex allergies to develop a rash or hives. Also, beware of disinfectant wipes and sprays used to clean gym equipment. They can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can spur an asthma attack or cause skin irritation.
If you’re allergic to seasonal pollen, especially mold or our notorious cedar pollen, then hit the ground running indoors. Not a fan of treadmills and indoor tracks? Then take your allergy medication and avoid running outdoors during mid-day and afternoon hours when pollen counts may be the highest. Be sure to change your clothes and shower immediately after finishing your outdoor workout. This will help to remove any particles that might have collected in your hair or your clothing.
If your workout leaves you itchy and you’ve ruled out other gym culprits, your clothing might be the problem. Synthetic materials used in everything from shirts to socks could be irritating your skin. ACAAI recommends checking clothing labels and opting for Lycra (Spandex) which is higher quality and less likely to irritate your skin. Garments made of natural products (washed cotton) can also help. If you have a latex allergy, be aware of athletic shoes and elastic waistbands.
So if your allergies and asthma are getting in the way of your New Year’s resolutions to get into better shape, contact Dr. Hallett and develop a plan for a healthier 2016.