016 Hay Fever and the Cyclist
Hay Fever and the Cyclist
Seasonal allergic rhinitis is a common condition affecting children and adults.
There is an increased incidence in adolescents and young adults. Because
cyclists ride through grassland areas, exposure to allergens like pollen is
enhanced. In fact, pollen allergy is the commonest allergic disorder world wide.
Manifestations of seasonal allergic rhinitis include:
|blocked nose ("cold-like" syndrome)|
|allergic rhinitis sneezing|
|itching of the soft palate and ear canals|
|itchy watery eyes|
|itchy nasal cavity and watery discharge from the nasal passages|
|post nasal drip, headache and irritability|
|allergic conjunctivitis, watery eyes and photophobia|
Sensitization may follow exposure to grass, tree or weed pollens.
Removing the pollen allergen is not possible if the cyclist wants to ride
through the grasslands and participate in cycle tours and funrides.
Antihistamines and decongestant medications are effective but sedation is a
drawback. Non-sedating agents such as Clarityne“, Zyrtec“ or Telfast“ are
Sodium cromoglycate (Rynacrom“) either as nose drops or nasal spray is also
effective in the seasonal form of allergic rhinitis.
Topical steroid nasal sprays. Iflanaze“ and Beconase“ (aqueous nasal sprays)
used intermittently during the height of the season are very effective. Side
effects are uncommon, but nasal spray abuse must be guarded against. Seven to
ten days is the usual period of treatment. A positive response can be expected
within hours. This will bring relief as the upper respiratory tracts will become
unblocked and facilitate breathing. Associated chronic asthma may be troublesome
and mandates referral to an allergy specialist and pulmonologist.
Allergy Society of SA. Handbook of practical allergy, second edition, 2001.