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Could You Be Allergic to Exercise? It’s Possible, Scientists Say


On the dreaded drive to the gym, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s possible to be allergic to exercise so you could get out of a workout. Well, according to science, it’s possible!

An estimated 50 people per 100,000 are afflicted by a condition called exercise-induced anaphylaxis. One man who was diagnosed with this condition, Joe O’Leary, described it as follows to Popular Science: “My eyes were watering, I was having trouble breathing. In another five minutes, I was struggling to breathe. I looked behind me into the mirror, and my eyes were swollen—every part of my face was swollen.”

Sounds scary, right? for about 30 to 50 percent of people with exercise-induced anaphylaxis, a reaction like O’Leary described only occurs when exercise or strenuous activity happens in conjunction with a trigger food. For O’Leary, it’s tomatoes, peppers, nuts, and soy, but for others, it could something like aspirin.

“There are a variety of things that [the trigger] might be,” allergist Maria Castells says. And for a portion of those who suffer from this condition, “just the exercise itself” could be the trigger. Some women, Castells says, only experience the anaphylactic reaction at a point during menstruation when their body is producing large amounts of estrogen, which binds to cells that are part of the allergic reaction.

People who are more fit typically need to do more strenuous exercise before the reaction will occur, Castells says. But there is no limit to the exercises that could cause the reaction. Running, biking, and even dancing have all been recorded as triggers.

So what is life like when you’re allergic to exercise? According to Castells, you can carry an EpiPen with you. And just as you would manage an allergy, you should avoid noted trigger foods. That said, it’s very hard to recreate this condition in a laboratory, so there is still much research that needs to be done on this topic.

Now that you know, would you still like to be allergic to exercise?

h/t Popular Science

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