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Northland Woman Gets Rare Diagnosis: Allergic to Exercise

Updated: 07/08/2014 10:51 PM
Created: 07/08/2014 6:03 PM WDIO.com

After months of allergy-like symptoms and feeling like she couldn't breath, Elaine Holmberg can run again pain free.

Holmberg said her friends thought she was crazy when she described what she felt while working out - tingly scalp, itchy nose, and watery eyes, according to a release from Essentia Health. When she ran the Duluth Mother's Day 5K this year, her symptoms were so strong she decided to see a doctor.

Dr. Alaaddin Kandeel is an Allergist at Essentia Health in Duluth. At first, Holmberg's diagnosis was a mystery, but Dr. Kandeel said listening to all of her symptoms was key.

"I mean, it goes against all that we know about allergies, because if you are allergic to a food you should get symptoms right away, however in Elaine's case she does not get symptoms when she eats the food if she's not exercising," he explained.

Dr. Kandeel discovered Holmberg had food-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis. He called it "the rare of the rare" cases.

The diagnosis means Holmberg only has symptoms when she exercises within a few hours of eating. Common food culprits are wheat, grains, and nuts, but in Holmberg's case the food culprit was Power Bars.

Dr. Kandeel said avoiding the allergic episodes is as simple as not eating immediately before or after working out.

Essentia Health

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