Runners are always looking for ways to improve their training and deal with common obstacles that impede their progress. We asked Dr. Nathan S. Box, D.O. at Freeman Ear, Nose, Throat Center, about some common runner issues that relate to his area of practice.
1. Ways to treat runny nose, etc, while running/training and why it occurs.
Athletes often get runny noses during exercise because of “vasomotor rhinitis” which is a catecholamine-response within the nasal mucosa causing a vasodilation of the blood vessels supplying the nose. This causes runny nose and/or nasal congestion.
Treatment for the acute phase is nasal saline rinses, as well as over-the-counter nasal decongestants like Afrin or Neosynephrine. I don’t recommend long-term use of the latter secondary to developing dependency on them (a condition called “rhinitis medicamentosa”).
Overall treatment for vasomotor rhinitis should include nasal steroid sprays such as flonase or nasacort which help reduce the inflammatory response within the nasal mucosa as well as reduce nasal discharge. Also, oral antihistamines such as claritin or zyrtec may help reduce this response as well. There are also antihistamine sprays such as azelastine that may be of benefit.
2. Best overall breathing during running.
The best overall breathing strategies during running are long, slow and steady breadths, trying to draw in as much oxygen in as possible with each breath which will allow for maximum oxygenation to the muscles. Short, rapid breathing may cause hyperventilation.
3. How can an asthmatic or runner with exercise-induced asthma safely train?
The use of bronchodilators, such as albuterol inhalers (a beta 2 agonist), have greatly improved control of asthma and those with exercise-induced asthma. These medications allow the bronchioles to dilate, thus improving lung function. It is highly recommended that an asthmatic carry an inhaler on his or her person while running or training in case difficulty breathing were to develop.
4. How can a runner maintain the best ENT health while training?
My answer would be the same as with overall heart health- make sure to stay plenty hydrated by drinking lots of water and/or gatorade, etc as well as adhering to a strict diet with routine exercise. If allergies are a concern, then non-sedating antihistamines are warranted as well as the topical nasal steroid sprays as discussed above. And an athlete can never go wrong with daily nasal saline rinses. These help cleanse the intranasal mucosa of allergens such as pollens, dust, etc. I would also discourage the regular use of oral or intranasal decongestants such as pseudoephedrine or neosynephrine as these medications can arbitrarily increase blood pressure as well are addictive.
Dr. Box was a “pacer” for last year’s Joplin Memorial Half-marathon and has been running for several years. He not only offers expert medical treatment, but he relates as a runner. Contact Dr. Box’s office at 417.347.8405 with all your ear, nose, and throat questions.
We hope you found this to be helpful as you push towards your 2016 health goals. If completing a full marathon is one of your goals, then check out our Beginner Marathon Training schedule. We want to partner in your success, so visit our website for more training tools and race information. Hope to see you May 21, 2016 participating in one of our events. REGISTER TODAY!