What Are Pollen Allergies and Why YOU as an Athlete Should Care

Every year, the pollen season comes and tries to stop so many people from enjoying the outdoors. In particular, athletes who want to exercise outside, both who do and do not suffer from pollen allergies, face the highest risk.

Luckily, it is possible to protect yourself from pollen particles and head outside.

What are pollen allergies?

If you have allergies, you are not alone. Pollen allergies are quite common, and roughly 22% of people all around the world suffer from them. This is especially true in Oceania, where as many as 39% of people struggle with this issue, and in North America, where the number is 33%.

Pollen that comes from plants and tress can cause breathing problems. How? By causing a hypersensitivity to pollen that comes from the environment around you. This will make your nose runny or congested, your eyes to water, and lead to itching in the nose, eyes, inner ears, and inside the mouth. Sounds familiar? If you feel this way around pollen season (spring to summer), and especially if you have a history of allergy in your family, you should go get checked out by a doctor. By getting examined, you can find out exactly which pollen types you are allergic to, and be able to fight your symptoms better.

Unfortunately, pollen rates are affected by climate change, and this continues to cause a 0.3% raise in people with pollen allergies every year. On top of that, it also leads to a longer pollen season and a higher pollen concentration in the air, and that results in an increased duration of symptoms. Even if the pollen count is low, people can still show symptoms. Phew. Pollen can really mess with your life.

How does pollen affect us as athletes?

Athletes and sports enthusiasts, particularly who are interested in outdoor sports, face the risk of inhaling large amounts of pollen by exercising outdoors. This is why we are often encouraged to stay indoors or in sports facilities. However, they might not be available or not convenient for our sport. Then we end up not doing anything at all.

In athletes, allergies can hurt your performance and can be more dangerous than in other people. This is because exercise, especially intensive and high endurance exercise, changes the way we breathe: we inhale more in order to be able to bear the physical pressure of exercise. As a result, when an athlete exercises around pollen, they will inhale more pollen than a resting/lightly exercising person.

The inhaled pollen can also cause shortness of breath and fatigue which will make it difficult to exercise for a long time. Athletes in general are more likely to develop allergies, especially those who participate in endurance sports such as swimming, skiing, snowboarding, running, and cycling. In fact, in some of these sports, over half of the athletes suffer from allergies. This is a result of inhaling more harmful particles while exercising, especially when exercising in areas with a lot of them. So basically, people who do not suffer from allergies can develop allergies when they exercise in environments with irritants.

Masks and Pollen

Since staying indoors would be the safest way to avoid pollen, people may avoid necessary outdoor activities or fun outdoor exercise. However, there’s a solution for those who do not want to skip their outdoor routine – pollen masks. Pollen particles start at 9μm (microns) in size, which means that 2.5μm masks will filter out pollen well and you will be able to continue to engage in outdoor activities. Therefore, health professionals highly encourage people who suffer from pollen allergies to wear masks. Studies were also conducted to test this claim and showed the positive results of wearing masks during the pollen season for people with allergies.

Woman with arm band and light blue tank top . She is wearing a white F1S NAROO mask

NAROO has got you covered

The NAROO F series masks filter particles as small as 1.7μm, protecting you for different types of pollen and dust and make it much safer to be outside. Yet they are still easy to breathe in which ensures you can exercise comfortably.

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