What is exercise-induced anaphylaxis?

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis is considered as a form of chronic hives that is due to exercise. Nevertheless, some can suffer from symptoms of a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Aside from hives, those who have this condition can suffer from breathing difficulties, gastrointestinal symptoms and circulatory issues.

As the name suggests, exercise-induced anaphylaxis is due to exercise. Any form of exercise such as tennis, jogging or walking, swimming or even strenuous chores can trigger a reaction. The symptoms can manifest as warmth, tiredness, redness and itchiness, usually within a few minutes of starting an activity. If the individual continues with the activity, hives start to develop and might even include swelling of the lips, face, eyes and throat until anaphylaxis is full-blown.

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis

An individual at risk for exercise-induced anaphylaxis is required to bring along an injectable epinephrine and use a medical alert bracelet that described the medical condition and the need to administer an injectable epinephrine.

Causes of exercise-induced anaphylaxis

Just like with other types of chronic hives, the cause for exercises-induced anaphylaxis is unknown. Nevertheless, many have a particular trigger along with exercise that triggers the symptoms. The potential triggers include food, medications, cold weather, alcohol and menstruation.

In most cases, either exercise or a specific trigger will not trigger the symptoms. On the other hand, if the individual was exposed to the trigger and engages in an activity, the symptoms will surely manifest.

The medications that can cause a reaction include ibuprofen, aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In some cases, it is possible that any drug can trigger a reaction if taken before exercising.

Various foods that are eaten 24 hours before exercise can trigger a reaction as well. Nevertheless, an individual might be able to consume these foods without symptoms if they refrain from physical activity. The potential trigger foods include dairy, seafood, cereal grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits and alcohol.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of exercise-induced anaphylaxis is based on the history of symptoms that manifest only with physical activity. In case the symptoms develop without exercise such as a heightened body temperature, it is likely that cholinergic urticaria is responsible for the symptoms.

If an individual is diagnosed with the condition, it is vital to assess for other triggers. This is done via allergy testing using various foods. A negative result on the skin test rules out the possibility that the food is the cause. As for a positive result, especially to food that was consumed within 24 hours before the symptoms manifest, it indicates that food is the trigger.

Management

The immediate symptoms that manifest can be managed in the same way as anaphylaxis from other causes. In most cases, it requires the administration of injectable epinephrine.

Always remember that prevention of the symptoms is the main objective of treatment. Individuals with exercise-induced anaphylaxis must not exercise alone or during cold weather, avoid eating potential trigger foods at least 24 hours before exercise and only exercise on an empty stomach. In addition, women should avoid exercise during their menstrual period.

An individual at risk for exercise-induced anaphylaxis is required to bring along an injectable epinephrine and use a medical alert bracelet that described the medical condition and the need to administer an injectable epinephrine. It is recommended to exercise with a companion who is familiar with the condition.

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