For those affected, it is not a lame excuse for chronic unwillingness to exercise. FITBOOK explains how so-called stress-induced anaphylaxis (simplified: allergic immune reaction that occurs during physical exertion) becomes noticeable, how dangerous it can become and how one should react to the finding.

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis, or EIA for short – is the English technical term for a syndrome that is associated with pathological immune reactions to great physical exertion and exercise. Several publications on the subject are collected in the medical database PMC. Above all, an article from the Medical University of Wroclaw, published in the journal “Current Allergy and Asthma Reports” at the time, has been cited frequently. According to the authors around Wojciech Barg, the rare clinical syndrome, like some other allergies, is potentially life-threatening. In the worst case, an anaphylactic reaction to a food or medicine, for example, can lead to shock – and this can lead to death without emergency therapy.

What is an allergy?

In allergy sufferers, the immune system responds with excessive defense to actually harmless environmental influences. The one on nuts is particularly dangerous. Here the reaction – an emission of the messenger substance histamine, which has the task of fighting penetrations in the organism – can occur on the smallest crumbs and nut dust. As with most intolerances, there are gradations here. With less severe allergy sufferers, nut protein causes a burning and tingling sensation in the pharynx, in more severe cases breathlessness or even suffocation is possible.

Spread and symptoms of an EIA

The article cited a UK survey that found that about two percent of the Western population suffered from EIA. The number of those affected is said to have increased in recent years and the number of unreported cases is also higher. EIA symptoms range from itching to redness and a visible rash on the skin, angioedema (also: Quincke’s edema, visible swelling of the skin and mucous membranes), shortness of breath and swallowing disorders, chest and throat tightness, loss of consciousness, sweating, headache and nausea.

Causes of the syndrome

As with other allergies, there are at most theories about why an EIA arises, but no (yet) reliable scientific explanations. Unfortunately, you cannot cure a sports allergy.

If the symptoms appear, they need to be treated to prevent shock. Those affected (less severely) therefore carry allergy sprays or tablets with them, for example – and, incidentally, also sometimes react differently to different sporting disciplines. In very pronounced cases, there is no way around reducing the training intensity. Increasing again is at most leisurely and under strict observation of the condition.

About two percent of people have to take it easy in sports to prevent an anaphylactic reaction
Nutrition and EIA (= FDEIA)

The most common form of sports allergy is said to occur in combination with food. Those affected react particularly strongly if they exercise shortly after eating. It is not always decisive whether it is specific or particularly allergy-prone substances (e.g. soybean, wheat, peanuts) or whether those affected react to the corresponding food without subsequent training.

Those affected have to react quickly and correctly

The scientists point out that in acute cases, EIA must be treated as (and just as quickly) as any other type of anaphylaxis. The basic active ingredients include epinephrine (adrenaline), antihistamines and systemic corticosteroids.

You are unlikely to be affected – especially if you have not yet experienced any symptoms. And if it does, rash, for example, may also be due to the material from which your sportswear is made. However, if you recognize yourself in this post and have stopped exercising in general, a visit to the doctor is recommended for intensive clarification.