Can Exercise Trigger a Food-Allergy Reaction?

Published: June 9, 2014

Q: My son recently passed a baked milk challenge at his allergist’s office. I regularly feed him small pieces of caked baked with milk. He usually tolerates it, but on two occasions, he broke out in hives, developed swollen lips and felt tightness in his chest. Interestingly, on both occasions, he played sports about an hour after eating the cake. Do you think exercise is leading to the reaction?

Dr. Watson: It’s possible that exercise is a factor in these reactions. Food-associated exercise-induced anaphylaxis is a real phenomenon, although it’s more commonly related to seafood, fresh fruits, vegetables and wheat.

If you’ve found that he can tolerate the baked milk products as long as he does not exercise within a few hours of ingestion, then go ahead and keep up withe therapy. This is a worthwhile effort to control and perhaps overcome the allergy. He should avoid exercising for four hours after eating baked milk products.

Please keep in touch with your allergist on how the baked milk consumption is going.

Dr. Wade Watson is a pediatric allergist and Professor of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. He is also the head of the Division of Allergy at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

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