Why does running make my nose run too? Exercise-induced rhinitis is the name of the condition that explains why you might experience allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose, whenever you run or perform any other activity that includes intense physical activity. Other examples may include swimming, biking, or skiing.
Although certain aspects of exercise-induced rhinitis still require further study, the most basic underlying causes are well understood.
Let’s take a quick look at the primary causes of exercise-induced rhinitis and what you can do to decrease your discomfort while exercising.
The Body’s Reaction to Exercise
If you want to understand exercise-induced rhinitis, you must understand how your body reacts to exercise. In this case, we’re going to focus on cardio because those exercise forms are the most likely to result in congestion or a post-nasal drip in people who have exercise-induced rhinitis. Let’s start with your heart.
It’s common knowledge that cardio increases your heart rate. That’s generally why it’s called cardio, but you may be less familiar with the reason for your increased heart rate. During exercise, your muscles and vital organs have an increased demand for oxygenated blood. By pumping faster, your heart can deliver more oxygen. With practice, your heart does this more efficiently, which is why active people tend to have a lower heart rate than sedentary people under similar conditions. However, this entire process means your lungs have a big, oxygen-rich order to fill.
Depending on the level of exertion, your body may need up to 15 times more oxygen while exercising. To meet this demand, you will automatically start to breathe more quickly, drawing in as much breath as possible. Dedicated athletes often practice breathing exercises to help maximize the amount of oxygen per breath. This is where exercise-induced rhinitis comes in.
Your muscles and organs aren’t the only body parts benefitting from the increased blood flow. For many people, this opens up the nasal passages and decreases sinus pressure. Unfortunately, those same changes can make it easier for allergens and other irritants to enter your nasal passages unhindered.
The Causes of Exercise-Induced Rhinitis
Exercise-induced rhinitis is mostly found in people with existing allergies. These allergies could be so mild that you don’t notice them when you’re just going about your daily activities, but exercise can easily change that. If you’re taking in 15 times more oxygen, you’re also breathing in a lot more of those potential allergens than you normally would. This can also affect people who don’t have allergies if they’re inhaling a larger amount of irritants that are directly bothering their sensitive nasal passages.
Why Does Running Make My Nose Run Too?
Luckily there’s an easy way to tell if you’re reacting to an allergen or irritant. A majority of patients with exercise-induced rhinitis experience symptoms almost exclusively when they exercise outside. By exercising inside or in a different environment, you can compare your experience to get a quick idea of what may be causing your symptoms. Once you know what might be going on, it’s time to contact a doctor who can treat allergies.
Treatments for Exercise-Induced Rhinitis
During your first visit with your allergy doctor in New York you’re going to end up answering a lot of questions. To make this step easier, try writing down what symptoms you experience, where you are when they occur, what you’re doing when they occur, and how often you experience them. From there, if your doctor suspects allergies are the culprit you’ll move forward to allergy testing.
When your test results are complete, your doctor will have a clear view of the allergens that affect you. This will allow your doctor to come up with a personalized plan to help you exercise more comfortably. Immunotherapy and nasal sprays are just a couple of options you and your doctor may consider.