How to Reduce the Effects of Hay Fever When Cycling

[x_share title=”Share this Post” twitter=”true” facebook=”true” google_plus=”true” email=”true”]In 2012, Bicycling Magazine rated Minneapolis the number one city in America for bike friendliness. Atlanta did not enter the top ten, nor has it ever. But Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration voiced a goal in 2013 to break into the top ten by 2016 and vowed to make strides toward that goal.

Earlier this year, Mayor Kasim Reed’s office promised cycling improvements on a scale Atlanta’s never seen, investing more than two-million dollars in biking infrastructure. By 2016, Atlanta pledges to double its miles of bike lanes. This includes adding lanes that will connect the Atlanta University Center to downtown and connect the Beltline with Centennial Olympic Park, among other plans. The plan even includes a separated bike lane on busy Ponce de Leon Avenue.

Clearly, Atlanta is set to become a cycling city. But what does that mean for many of our patients who suffer from Hay Fever?

For many, the summer months are an opportunity to get outside for exercise and fun. The challenge for those who suffer from hay fever (allergic rhinitis) is the more you breathe (such as during exercise) the more pollen you will intake into your nose. But all is not lost!

Here are recommended steps to take to prevent hay fever symptoms from interfering with your cycling joy:


Take Medication Early

It’s important to prepare well in advance of exercising, working, or playing outdoors. If you suffer from hay fever symptoms, we recommend a visit to one of our five offices for testing and diagnosis to determine if your symptoms are due to allergic rhinitis. We will be able to recommend a plan to help you better cope with your symptoms, which may include use of over the counter medications, prescription meds, or possibly allergy shots (immunotherapy). Immunotherapy may take up to 30 days to have a noticeable effect on your symptoms.

By taking medication daily well before the highest pollen activity season, you can lessen the immune system’s ability to produce histamine — well before it has decided pollen is the enemy.


Use a Nasal Pollen Barrier

An allergen barrier balm, such as Haymax, an organic, drug-free pollen barrier balm, can be quite effective  as a first defense in trapping polling before it enters your nose. If the pollen can’t get into your nose, it can’t cause an allergic reaction. Fortunately, Haymax is affordable and widely available online.

You may also want to consider wearing a surgical-style facemask to present pollen from entering your nose. For optimal benefit, get a facemask with an N95 rating by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). They are widely available at home supply centers or your local pharmacy. Be sure the mask fits snugly around your nose and mouth to ensure no air is entering around the edges.


Monitor Your Symptoms

WebMD offers a free allergy monitoring app. Based on the allergies you have, the app for iPhone will help you prepare for each day with a personalized allergy and weather forecast along with doctor-approved tips that can be customized to you and your family’s specific allergies.

Omnaris offers an allergy symptom tracking and pollen alert app.

We offer a daily allergy alert by email. It’s not as “fancy” as the apps, but it can certainly keep you aware of daily local pollen levels and the possibility of increased allergy symptoms if you don’t want to weigh your smartphone down with another app.


Ride When the Pollen is Low

The apps and email alerts mentioned in the previous paragraph can help you determine if pollen is at a reasonable level for your cycling outing.


Eat Omega-3 Fats

In our hemisphere, people tend to eat too few omega-3 fats, which can lead to an imbalanced immune system prone to over-reaction. Omega-3 oils are typically  found in oily fish, walnuts and flaxseed. There are also supplements available to get more omega-3 in your diet, but getting them from real food is always superior to a manufactured product. WebMD has a great guide to Omega-3 foods here.


Final Tips

While outdoors your skin, clothing and hair may attract and retain excessive amounts of pollen. Remove outer clothing and shoes before you enter your home. You may want to shower immediately after returning indoors to remove that pollen to prevent a symptom flare-up.

Exercise is important to maintain a healthy body and especially the cardio-vascular system. Don’t let hay fever (allergic rhinitis) prevent you from enjoying the fun of cycling.



Read more about Atlanta cycling and allergies at these links:

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