Exercise-induced or worsened anaphylaxis? Knowing the difference

Exercise-induced or worsened anaphylaxis? Knowing the difference

  • 20 July 2015
  • News

Exercise-induced Anaphylaxis or Anaphylaxis Worsened by Exercise: knowing the difference.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can have several factors that worsen a reaction and many different types of allergens and situations that can cause one.

Studies suggest that there are a number of factors that can increase the severity of an allergic reaction.

Exercise is one of these factors. Exercise can make an allergic reaction much worse, however, it can be the trigger too, causing someone to have an allergic reaction.

So, how do you know whether your reaction is the result of exercise-induced anaphylaxis – a condition where exercise is the trigger – or an allergic reaction which has been worsened by exercise – where exercise has exacerbated your reaction?

Our short summary should help you identify the differences.

Exercise-induced Anaphylaxis (EIA)

The reaction targets the body’s Mast Cells and causes blood vessels to leak and the body to release histamine, creating swelling, low blood pressure and difficulty in breathing, which can prove fatal.

Exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIA) is a fairly rare condition in which anaphylaxis is triggered by exertion.

EIA can also occur from exercising shortly after eating a particular food that normally causes no symptoms or, in rare cases, exercising shortly after eating any food. This is known as Food Dependent Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis (FDEIA).  Eating the food allergen or exercising alone would not trigger an anaphylactic reaction in FDEIA  –  both factors are required.

Anaphylaxis Worsened by Exercise

Studies1. suggest that there are a number of factors such as exercise, anxiety, asthma and alcohol consumption that may exacerbate allergic reactions and make them more severe than they might otherwise be in controlled conditions without these factors.  In this situation, the person concerned would normally react to the implicated allergen (such as food) whenever they were exposed to it, but if any or a combination of the factors suggested  were also involved, the reaction may be more severe. 

1. Clin Exp Allergy, 2005. Does severity of low-dose, double-blind, placebo-controlled food challenges reflect severity of allergic reactions to peanut in the community?. 35:1227–1233.