Swelling of the eyes and lips after jogging on a treadmill is typically caused by an allergic reaction triggered by a variety of situations. Besides facial swelling, symptoms can include flushing of the skin, nausea, lightheadedness, hives, itching, abdominal pain and trouble breathing. Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of exercise and can linger for hours afterward. Because an exercise-induced allergic reaction can be life threatening, it’s essential to understand what causes it exactly and how you can treat it. As always, see your doctor if symptoms persist or are severe.
The Usual Suspects
Certain foods such as tomatoes, celery, peanuts, wheat and seafood can trigger an allergic reaction that causes swelling of the lips and eyes during and after your treadmill workout. Foods like these can weaken or destabilize mast cells and basophylls -- a certain type of white blood cell -- and trigger an allergic reaction. Facial swelling can also be the result of a seasonal allergy if you run on the treadmill during pollen season. In addition, intense exercise or working out in high humidity or heat can cause exercise-induced edema -- also called fluid retention -- in the face.
Ditch the Swelling
Immediately stop running on the treadmill if you develop facial swelling. If your symptoms are mild, apply a cold compress to your face and lips for a few minutes at a time to help relieve swelling and discomfort. You can also take an over-the counter antihistamine or ranitidine to treat symptoms. Use your inhaler if you’ve been prescribed one for previous allergy attacks. Severe allergy-related swelling may need to be treated with an auto-injector of epinephrine. As always, consult your doctor before taking any medication, even over-the-counter medicines.
Banish Future Attacks
To to help ward off future exercise-induced allergic reactions, you can take an antihistamine prior to your workout as directed by your doctor. You should also refrain from eating for four or more hours before your workout to help prevent food-related allergic reactions after exercise. If you suspect a food is triggering your attacks, you can work with a doctor or allergist to find the food culprit. Try to avoid exercising in a very humid or hot environment; turn up the air conditioning, point a fan on you or open a window to help keep you cool during your workout.
Proceed With Caution
Do not ignore facial swelling after exercise. Sometimes allergic reactions can intensify, resulting in loss of consciousness, throat swelling, airway blockage and even death. Call your doctor or go to the emergency room if you experience abnormal breathing or your facial swelling is severe, doesn’t respond to home treatment or worsens. Always exercise with a partner -- especially if you have experienced exercise-induced allergies before. Be sure your exercise buddy is aware of your condition and knows how to help you in the event of an episode.