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Dr. Jack Taunton

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Runners’ Health: Don’t let allergies hold you back

Spring is here and so is allergy season. There is good news however for allergy sufferers who run, as their condition may now be controlled and prevented if necessary steps are taken. After suffering for long enough, I decided to visit my doctor to learn which of many allergy medications would be the most suitable. I was diagnosed with rhinitis (hay fever) and was prescribed with Flonase (nasal spray) and Reactine,which are taken before the workout and have certainly helped to make my running experience more manageable.

Back in 2001 when I was living in South Korea, my sinuses had to be drained because of extremely high air pollution and more pollen than I could handle…not conducive to comfortable running.

It is difficult enough to run but to have hay fever on top of that makes your workout less enjoyable. So seeking tips as to how to go about diminishing symptoms was my goal during a phone interview with Dr. Jack Taunton, who was chief medical officer for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Dr. Taunton stated” I discovered that certain regions across North America are harsher than others when it comes to allergies. The West Coast of British Columbia is a particularly troublesome place for allergy sufferers because of the vast amount of forested areas and voluminous species of plants and grasses.”

Dr. Taunton further alluded to some people being allergic to certain foods, such as strawberries, some vegetables, dust and pet dander that may trigger an allergic reaction, adding, “Some triathletes are even allergic to certain types of chlorine in the pool,” also showing that for some unlucky people there is no escape. He suggested seeing an allergist (specialist) when symptoms become difficult to manage and to isolate exactly what type of allergy you have.

To summarize, your allergies are caused by the environment or certain foods, according to Dr. Taunton, and the best we can do is try to manage the situation. So what can you do to enjoy your workouts more? “Try breathing more through your mouth,” says Dr. Taunton. Try running when the pollen counts are lowest (check the weather report), wear sunglasses to prevent itchy, watery eyes. Avoid running on trails or in parks at the most dangerous times (for your allergies). Before your workouts, take an antihistamine medication like Reactine. Nasal sprays and eye drops are often available by prescription only. Allergy shots may be the answer and it is also suggested that Green Tea may help provide relief. As already mentioned, however, the best idea is to visit your doctor first to find out if you do suffer from an allergy condition.

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