Yeah, you read that title correctly. Some gym-goers (both male & female) at a rate of about 50 out of 100,000, actually have a legitimate excuse to be conscious of their exercise rates and abilities. Granted, it’s not exercise alone that they’re allergic to, but the act of exercise in addition with an allergen trigger.
In this case, exercise is a trigger that projects the body into an allergic reaction. The condition is called Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis, and it’s somewhat of an anomaly in the world of medicine. Anaphylaxis is a severe (sometimes life threatening) reaction to an allergen trigger that needs to be treated right away. These are cases when you hear about epinephrine pens (EpiPens) being used, or constantly held by those with allergies.
Allergists, doctors, and researchers are aware of the condition, but are still unsure of the exact biological mechanisms that cause the reactions. Researchers have known of this condition for over 35 years, and have made only some progress in figuring out what may stimulate the exercise induced reaction. What’s most strange about this form of allergic reaction is how the cases vary from person to person. This is why it’s so difficult for researchers to nail down exact mechanisms.
Researchers have said that roughly 30-50% of those who suffer from this condition find the reaction due to certain foods combined with exercise; others have had reactions caused by the combination of exercise and drugs like Aspirin. And there are even some women who have reactions when they’re in the peak of their menstrual cycle (possibly due to very high estrogen levels). To top it off, the intensity trigger of exercise varies from person to person. So while you have different triggers, you also have different activities/intensities to account for.
There have been a few theories made behind what may cause Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis: Increased blood flow pushing sensitive immune cells through the body, and gut bacteria changing behavior due to exercise. But these are only a couple theories, and it’s a difficult condition to test due to the varying conditions.
Fortunately, those who suffer from this condition usually find out right away, and medical professionals can help provide a clear cut game plan for combating the condition. It’s a rare, but pretty severe condition that should be taken seriously like any normal allergy, especially when you account for all factors involved.