POLLEN ALLERGY: The Hidden Enemy of Athletes | NAROO Sports Masks NAROO MASK

POLLEN ALLERGY: The Hidden Enemy of Athletes

How the Prettiest of Seasons Can Hinder Your Athletic Performance

 

There is nothing quite like the great outdoors in spring, and there is nothing quite like the hit that this beautiful season can inflict on the human body. As inspiring as nature may be in full bloom, pollen allergy is an all too familiar enemy of many, including athletes. As with everything in life, there is bad news and good news here; yes, pollen could definitely jeopardize or ruin your sports goals during allergy season, but there are ways to protect yourself and your performance from it.

 

POLLEN ALLERGY: The Hidden Enemy of Athletes | NAROO Sports Masks

What Are Pollen Allergies?

Pollen allergy—sometimes commonly referred to as “hay fever,” “allergic rhinitis,” or as “seasonal allergic rhinitis” by experts—is an allergic reaction to the pollen produced by plants and carried around by the wind. With one in five people being affected by it at some point in their life, it is likely something you either face yourself, or at the very least have encountered through family, friends, or peers. In Western countries, between 10% and 30% of people are affected in a given year.

Hay fever usually appears with allergy symptoms such as:

  • Itching in your nose, roof of your mouth, throat, and eyes
  • Sneezing 
  • Stuffy nose (congestion)
  • Runny nose 
  • Tearing eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes

If these—especially a combination of them—sound familiar, particularly during pollen season then you know the likely culprit behind them. Now, while many of these symptoms are annoying at best, allergic rhinitis itself can also cause a variety of other issues that can range from significant hindrances to significant dangers.

For one, those who are allergic to pollen are also prone to allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergy). But it is also theorized that upper respiratory inflammation can lead to lower respiratory issues as well. According to Yale Medicine allergist Florence Ida Hsu, MD, “You’ll find people with allergies getting recurrent sinus infections, and both can lead to respiratory symptoms, asthma, and bronchitis.”

While there is a lot we still do not know about allergies, we do know that seasonal allergic rhinitis “… is often hereditary as to whether or not we develop allergies, which means it can be passed down through genes from parents to their children.” We also know that climate change is making them worse long-term. It is therefore always advisable to consult with your physician if you think or feel you may be affected.

NAROO F5 - Man wearing a blue F5 NAROO sports mask for pollution and pollen for hiking
NAROO MASK - Cyclist wearing a F5 sports mask and a black helmet in pollen and forest

How Does Pollen Affect Us As Athletes?

According to several studies, allergic rhinitis is more common in athletes than previously thought, with endurance athletes in particular having a high prevalence of it (44% of athletes). When you breathe harder and longer—which is common when exercising or competing as an athlete—you inhale a larger amount of allergens and irritants over a longer period of time.

According to Katelaris et al., 2000, allergic rhinitis impairs physical performance in professional athletes by affecting sleep, decreasing the ability to concentrate or reducing physical fitness. The same study also concluded that athletes are more prone to asthma. In the survey of 214 athletes representing 12 Olympic sports, 21% reported having experienced asthma.

All is not bleak, however. If you are now wondering “can I exercise with seasonal allergies?” The answer is absolutely yes. You simply have to exercise more caution than others. There are many ways to reduce the health risks and comfort issues brought about by pollen allergy. The tricky part is choosing—and balancing—between prevention and treatment. 

As Medical News Today states, “medical treatments, home remedies, and changes in some lifestyle habits can help ease symptoms of pollen allergy.” At the same time, it’s impossible to be completely free of them through treatment alone. It is necessary for you to also consider how to avoid exposure to these allergens in the first place. Staying indoors and fortifying your home environment does help, but an athlete needs that safety and comfort level on the go.

NAROO F5 - red filtering sports mask for all weather, cycling, pollution, pollen, pollution, woman runner stretching
NAROO F5 - red filtering sports mask for all weather, cycling, pollution, pollen, pollution, man with helmet

Masks and Pollen

So if you need a face covering to tackle pollen head on, what is the best allergy mask to go for? Well, for one, any reduction in exposure is better than full exposure. According to a study by the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, Japan, standard non-woven fabric surgical facemasks and glasses with side guard protection can help to a degree, but they cannot go up against wind speed and direction.

N95 respirators do a better job at filtering pollen particles out, but they are some of the least comfortable, least breathable to exercise or compete with. So with pollen particle sizes typically ranging from 9μm (microns) to 200μm, how does one go about keeping them out without resorting to solutions which will hinder their athletic performance?

This is where pollen sports masks come in, or rather, on.

NAROO Has Got You Covered

At NAROO we understand that the mechanisms of keeping you safe and at the top of your game as a hobbyist or athlete are multifaceted and complex. With that in mind we have utilized science, research, and innovation to bring you certified pollen-stopping sports masks held to the highest industry standards, such as the NAROO F Series. F Series masks filter out particles as small as 1.7μm, keeping even the tiniest specs of pollen out in the wild, and out of your respiratory system.

So next time you dread those outdoor activities during high pollen count, remember that you can always grab your NAROO mask and enjoy that fresh spring air.

“These aren’t just face masks. They’re breathing solutions with testing and technology behind them.” — MENAFN- GetNews

“(The NAROO F-Series) are easy-breathing and filter out environmental agents that cause breathing difficulties or trigger allergy.” — Allergy UK

“With NAROO sports masks, athletes with mild to severe allergic reactions can train outside and go on outdoor adventures even during the pollen season.” — Nadezhda Pavlova, Pedalnorth.com

Written by Vasia Tolou

NAROO FU+Copper - Sports Mask for Cycling in Pollen 1

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