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Exercise-Induced Rhinitis Makes Your Nose Run When Exercising

You Asked: My Nose Runs When I Do Cardio

Dear Fit,
Whenever I do any type of cardio, whether it be running, biking, or indoor tennis, my nose runs like a faucet. I always work out with some tissues stuffed in my sports bra strap! I don't have seasonal allergies. My nose just runs when I get my heart pumping. Why does this happen and is there anything I can do to prevent it?
—Runny Nosed Runner

How annoying for you!

This is a pretty common condition called exercise-induced rhinitis. I know it sounds strange, but for some people, working out can trigger allergic reaction symptoms such as congestion, sinus pain, runny nose, headaches, itchy eyes, asthma, hives or other rashes, and in rare cases, even anaphylaxis. Exercise itself can be the sole trigger (especially vigorous exercise), but sometimes it's the combination of exercise plus another trigger such as pollen or cold weather that produces symptoms.

If the symptoms really bother you, it may help to see your doctor to get a prescription nasal spray. You'll have to take it for a week or so to start seeing results, and you'll have to keep taking it to keep your nose from running and ruining your workout. Or it may help to take an over-the-counter allergy medication such as Claritin or Zyrtec about an hour before exercising. If you'd rather not take medication, you'll just have to continue to keep tissues stashed in your sports bra.


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