How to deal with a runny nose when cycling

It's snot funny when your nose is constantly runny, so fight back

If your nose won’t stop running when you’re out on the bike, you could be suffering from Exercise Induced Rhinitis (EIR).

As well as constant snuffling, EIR can cause congestion, sneezing, post-nasal drip and watery eyes. It can even slow you down — one study reported that 40 percent of athletes found that EIR adversely affected performance.

If most of your problems occur when riding through fields in summer it is likely that allergies or hayfever are the source of your problem.

If you get symptoms at other times, then it could be vasomotor rhinitis. This is where increased blood flow to the lining of the nose causes it to produce a watery discharge. Air pollution, changes in weather, excess humidity, a very dry cold atmosphere, alcohol, spicy food and even stress will worsen this.

Potential treatments

Prevention through humidifying cold air can be a simple remedy — a buff pulled up over the nose on frosty days is a good idea.

Antihistamine nasal spray (Azelastine) is the first-line medical treatment. Failing that, a steroid nasal spray such as Beconase (available over the counter) can be effective.

For allergies, it’s worth trying antihistamine tablets. Decongestant nasal drops (ephedrine or pseudoephedrine) can be used, but only for a maximum of seven days or you risk rebound congestion on withdrawal.

Pseudoephedrine in tablet form can also work, but is a World Anti-Doping Agency-banned substance. Unfortunately, unlike other causes of nasal symptoms, EIR does not seem to improve with increasing fitness.

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