Allergies continued to annoy me this week. Tuesday's workout was in light rain, which tamped down the pollen. I felt...like myself again. It was nice to have the reassurance that I'm not out of shape or struggling or over-trained (which is exactly how I feel on the deadlegged exhausting high pollen days).
Friday's tempo was another story - just a lousy day for breathing. 5 kilometers of tempo felt like 10. On days like that, I've learned just to focus on the proper effort level - tough days are also a good chance to practice staying relaxed when experiencing a rough patch. But that doesn't mean I enjoy them, or wish to experience them often
Friday morning's workout was followed by a visit to the allergist. It's been a few years since I was last in, and I was hopeful that perhaps there had been some major breakthrough in allergy medicine recently.
No such luck. But the appointment was still full of good takeaways that may be of use to others:
- Apparently the bipolar weather that the east coast has had this spring (up into the 70s, and then down into the 20s) is very bad for allergies. The back and forth puts additional strain on one's immune system, resulting in a stronger overreaction to allergens.
- I've had hopes that we're at the worst of spring allergy season now, and things would get better soon. No such luck - my doctor expects a prolonged allergy season, and expects things to get worse before they get better.
- My allergies this spring have generally been dry sinuses and fatigue, rather than congestion. In those cases, he recommends a sinus spray with xylitol in it, rather than Flonase or similar, which just dry one's sinuses out and worsen the issue. Another recommendation is to turn off the overhead fan in the bedroom, or at least reverse it so that it doesn't blow air directly down on me.
- When allergies result in dry sinuses, the cause can be a mild chronic staph bacterial sinus infection. The staph lies dormant, and then revitalizes when one inhales pollen. He didn't see any indications of a sinus infection when he examined me, but gave me a prescription for antibiotics anyway, in case I wanted to try them.
- As I noted last week, I've cut out eggs, apples, and some other stuff, since they are supposedly concomitant with spring oak tree pollen. He recommended that I continue to do so. Since I'm sensitive to mold, I should also avoid aged cheeses and wine. When I told him that I never touched either, since both were very bad migraine triggers for me, he responded "well that makes perfect sense now, doesn't it..."
- I've been taking Claritin in the morning, pre-run. He nixed this - all antihistamines need 6-8 hours to take full effect, meaning that they should be taken the night before. He recommended Allegra 24 hour, taken at bedtime. He also recommended the heartburn OTC medication Zantac, at twice the OTC dosage. Zantac is also an antihistamine, targeting a different type of histamines from the OTC antihistamines. The best option in my case would be to combine the Zantac and Allegra with a daily dose of Prednisone. But that's not an acceptable option. So we're sticking with Allegra/Zantac plus my normal asthma meds.
- About five years ago, I had done the "skin prick" test for allergies, at a different doctor's office. This is a test where they prick you with 30 different things, then watch you for an hour or two to see if you react. I had virtually no reactions (just a very small one to mold), which was surprising. And frustrating, since it meant I couldn't get allergy shots. When I discussed this with him on Friday, he noted that the test is only for the 30 most common allergens - there can be many more out there.
Additionally, there are many variants of mold, each with their own allergic profile, and people can respond more to some than to others. Some molds correspond closely with the pollen habits of some trees. As a result, if one experiences bad allergies when a birch tree is blooming, but doesn't test positive for a birch pollen allergy, it may be that one is actually allergic to a mold that thrives on birch pollen, rather than the pollen itself.
- We're going to repeat my skin prick testing this summer. Last time I did it, I only skipped antihistamines for one day, which could also explain my lack of reaction to the test. This time, I'm supposed to stay off of them for 7-10 days. For that reason, we're not doing the test until late June, after I've run Grandma's half. At that point, I'll be taking some downtime anyway, and it will also be the perfect time to take an extended break from all allergy and asthma meds. It's too late for allergy shots to help my spring season anyway, so no reason to rush the testing.
/info dump fin. Good luck to everyone marathoning tomorrow (I've got about 30 friends running it, it seems).