How To Prevent Hay Fever While Cycling
If you’ve ever had hay fever ruin a nice day in the country you’ll know just how badly it can affect your whole system. How something as minuscule as a grain of pollen can leave you wishing you could rinse your eyeballs under a cold tap is still a bit of mystery. As if not being able to see where you’re going for the streaming tears wasn’t bad enough, the only tap around is the one running where your nose is supposed to be.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to natural pollen. Sometimes it can be extreme. It is allergic rhinitis in which inflammation starts in the nose and makes its way into the sinuses. Eyes are also affected with hay fever as the tear duct release fluid to try and flush away the irritant.
Different kinds of pollen are air born in different seasons and hay fever may be due to the reaction to any kind of pollen. Usually, it’s grass pollen but also many species of tree pollen and some kinds of flower pollen can cause an allergic hay fever reaction.
Impacts Of Hay Fever On Runners
Hay fever adversely affects the nasal and respiratory tract. It results in constant sneezing and weakens nasal flow which impacts breathing. This difficulty in breathing tightens up the chest which in turn puts the cardiovascular system at risk. For runners, hay fever is extremely difficult and it deteriorates their performance.
Constant sneezing increases the time taken by the runner to finish the race as each sneeze closes the eye for a second. Sneezing also interrupts the concentration of the runner on the track and he gets distracted with the constant nasal flow.
Another adverse impact of hay fever on runners is that it disturbs the breathing pattern and causes difficulty breathing. Short irregular breaths are a major obstacle that could easily prevent a good performance on the running track.
Prevention Of Hay Fever
Prevention is always better than cure and the best prevention against hay fever is to avoid inhaling pollen. Try to grab as much fresh air as you can but stay away from pollen releasing fields, woodlands or parks.
Controlling airborne impurities while you are outdoors is almost impossible but this can be achieved quite successfully at home. There are different air purifying products available on the market that remove dirt and other hazardous particles from the air and give you clean air to breathe. One such product is Ionize which ironizes and attracts dust particles and pollen in the air and traps them. Another is Air Purifier which filters the air. Both of these products are effective and you can choose the one that best suits your requirements and budget.
While you are outdoors you cannot control the release of pollen yet you can choose a path that has little to no pollen. As you’d expect urban areas have a lower pollen count than the rural. However, you still need to be wary. Pollen can easily drift miles on thermals and in their vast numbers cities are no barrier. One trick is to know your allergen. Observe and make a note of your allergy pattern especially if it triggered near particular trees or grasses of flowers at specific times of the year. Here is a list of some pollen releasing months for different types of pollen.
- Birch trees release their pollen during April and May, so avoid them during spring.
- Grass pollens are more airborne during June and July. This is the time to avoid meadows.
- Oilseed rape is one dangerous plant for pollen allergic people particularly since its flowering season starts in May and continues until mid-June. Apart from its pollen, oilseed rape also releases other organic compounds that worsen the symptoms of hay fever if encountered.
Pollen barriers are one of the best preventive measures to use while running or cycling near trees or fields. It limits the amount of pollen inhaled via your nostrils. It is particularly beneficial for asthmatic patients and people who have a problem in their respiratory tract along with those prone to pollen allergies.
A pollen mask is the best pollen barrier restricts the intake of pollen while breathing significantly. To protect the eyes from pollen wear wrap-around cycling glasses. Other pollen barriers are allergy inhibiting balms and a jelly that if applied to the nostrils will stop pollen grains from entering your nose.
- Always take a bath preferably using anti-allergic products after returning from the fields.
- Wash your hands properly before eating anything after running or cycling.
Tips For Cyclists
Choose Your Time Of Ride Carefully
Carefully select the time for your ride when the pollen concentration is at its lowest. There are various apps and email services with alerts about pollen counts and high and low pollen concentration times.
Intake Of Omega-3
Omega -3 fats improve the performance of your immune system. They are found in fish, walnuts, and flax seeds. Increasing your intake of omega 3 significantly strengthens your body immune system and reduces the chances of developing allergies.
Take Early Medications
Start your medications as soon as you start experiencing early symptoms of hay fever to avoid severe allergic reactions. Once you know you are a hay fever sufferer it is best to take a daily preventive pill, especially over the most critical exposure times whether you feel symptoms at the time or not. You cannot walk or drive safely when you can’t see if your eyes are itchy and you’re sneezing – neither can you work safely or be productive and your social skills go right down the pan when shake hands and you’re clutching a snotty hankie.
If you have hay fever once the chances are you’ll get it again but if you didn’t could you really risk it? The best thing you can do is know your enemy, what it is and when it’s around so that the only thing to worry about next time you go cycling is what road cycling shoes to wear. Then clean your air and eat things with omega 3 until comes out of your ears because there are cases where people have simply grown out of it.