Running with allergies

Being a runner in a city like Toronto, with its poor excuse for a climate and year-round bad air, makes


Being a runner in a city like Toronto, with its poor excuse for a climate and year-round bad air, makes you appreciate the simple things in life’you know, like breathing. Throw allergies into the mix and you have to wonder if you should invest in a bubble’especially as those of us who suffer from allergies are also likely to have abnormalities in the lungs, a kind of pre-asthma that can develop into full-blown asthma.

Not so fast, says allergist Dr. Mark Greenwald. "Don’t make compromises," he says. (Besides, the bidding wars on bubbles are furious these days.)

Greenwald is a firm believer that we should deal with our allergy symptoms, not just ignore them in hopes they’ll go away. (They won’t.) He recommends treating allergies with a three-tiered approach: the short term (remedies such as OTC antihistamines), the intermediate (nasal sprays and eye drops) and the long-term (removing allergens from the home and reducing or even curing allergies through allergy "vaccines").

Avoidance is also a good strategy, he says: stay indoors on heavy smog and pollen days, and avoid exercising outdoors when pollen counts are at their worst: mid-morning, when the air is rising as it heats, bringing the pollen with it, and in the evening, when the opposite is happening. "Midday activity is probably best for people with allergies in terms of simple avoidance," Greenwald says, with the second-best being early morning, when the air is still cool, or later in the evening, when pollen has settled. Similarly, keep windows closed during times of day when the air is moving, to avoid circulating allergens through your home.

If you do suffer from allergies, however mild, Greenwald recommends visiting an allergist (your family doctor can give you a referral) to properly diagnose your reactions and come up with a treatment plan, such as allergy shots. And you don’t have to wait until you’re desperate: "it’s often better to address these things earlier," Greenwald says. Just imagine: a few years from now, you could be running allergy-free.

How do allergies affect your life?

Read more:
Asthma 101
Certified allergy- and asthma-friendly bedding
How clutter can contribute to allergies and asthma

View all of Kat’s running posts on the Half-marathon diaries home page.

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