Simply Scientific: Running with a runny nose

I carry a handkerchief everywhere – and it’s not for trying to appear painfully dainty. As a student who tries to maintain a moderately active lifestyle, regularly running and brisk walking have become part of my daily routine. But when I exercise rigorously, I find myself sniffling, no matter the season.

As it turns out, there’s a term for this particular nuisance: exercise-induced rhinitis (EIR). Medical News Today explains that the disorder really describes a form of non-allergic rhinitis, where exposure to irritants makes blood vessels expand and as a result, the lining of the nose swells. This glamorous process stimulates mucus glands, which ultimately leads to nasal congestion. In truth, EIR pretentiously refers to how environmental triggers that you encounter while exercising may give you a runny nose.

Kristin Hayes reported in Verywell how normally, as the heart rate increases when exercising and adrenaline is released, there’s a decrease in nasal passage obstruction. A stuffy nose often results from allergies, but this form of rhinitis isn’t the case. Perfume, smog, and chlorine are just some of the many environmental factors that could trigger non-allergic rhinitis, according to the National Health Service.

The Mayo Clinic explains that while symptoms of this far-from-dire condition can affect children and adults, they’re more common after the age of 20.

Unless your non-allergic rhinitis is severe, symptoms don’t last long, but they can still be a bother. A person who suffers from EIR can also use nasal sprays or over-the-counter medication to treat their nasal congestion.

For now, I’ll continue to run indoors, far from construction debris and safe in the knowledge that with my handkerchief within arm’s reach, my nose can remain as dry as my sense of humour.


Graphic by @sundaeghost

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