Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis (EIA)

By: Nicole A. Mezo, PA-C

photo of Nicole Mezo at Colorado Allergy & Asthma Centers

Nicole A. Mezo, PA-C

It’s true, you can be allergic to exercise.

Exercise induced anaphylaxis is a rare condition where a person has a severe allergic reaction due to exercise.  Symptoms may include body warmth, itching, hives, shortness of breath, facial swelling, throat closing, coughing, wheezing, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and fainting.  Triggers may include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s), menstrual cycle, alcohol, extreme temperatures, and pollen in pollen allergic people. 

Exercise induced anaphylaxis may occur in the presence or absence of food.  Food dependent exercise induced anaphylaxis (FDEIA) occurs if an allergenic food (specific to each patient) is consumed close to physical activity.  It is the combination of the food and activity that causes the reaction.  FDEIA occurs in approximately 30-50% of people with EIA.  Interestingly, a person can usually tolerate the food without exercise and can exercise safely if the offending food agent is not consumed beforehand.  Many foods have been implicated in FDEIA, but the most common foods include wheat, other grains, shellfish, and dairy.

Treatment for both EIA and FDEIA include carrying an epinephrine autoinjector at all times, wearing a medical alert bracelet, never exercising alone, keeping a cell phone available while exercising, avoiding eating within 4-6 hours of physical activity, avoiding NSAID’s/aspirin before exercise, and stopping exercise at the first sign of symptoms. 

If you think you may suffer from EIA, we encourage you to make an appointment with one of our providers today!

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