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Myth to Fact — 11 minutes

Some people can actually be clinically allergic to exercise

It's a fact!

If you’re feeling the burn as you work your body back up to fitness, there might be more than just muscle pain at play, particularly if you’re experiencing nausea, cramping, or even hives. There are a couple of rare forms of anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction) that have been linked to exercise. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis (EIAn) is a disorder in which physical exertion triggers a reaction, and Food-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis (FDEIAn) is the slightly-easier-to-manage form in which the reaction is found to be triggered by eating specific foods in the hours leading up to exercise.

These disorders are more common among adolescents and younger adults, and straight-up EIAn is rare and difficult to diagnose. However, the Food-dependent form can sometimes be diagnosed by an allergist using a combination of the usual skin and blood tests plus a careful history of the anaphylactic episode.

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Raymond Lepage, PhD, Doctor in Biochemistry
Raymond Lepage, PhD, Doctor in Biochemistry
Science popularizer
For about 50 years, Raymond Lepage worked as a clinical biochemist in charge of public and private laboratories. An associate clinical professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Université de Montréal and an associate professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, he has also been a consultant, researcher, legal expert and conference speaker. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications for scientific conferences and journals, and now devotes part of his semi-retirement to popularizing science.