Running Track with Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis (E.I.A.)

Running Track with Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis: One Doctor Turns a Passionate Goal into a Reality

by DeeDee Riley

Screenshot_2015-10-02-13-30-12 (2)Kayla was in first grade when she first started running track. She was seven and loved to run. Her little legs moved so fast, and she was in the youngest age group. Her cheeks would flush and become spotty after each time she ran. There were times she complained of stomach cramps. Anyone who runs knows that a great run usually consists of stomach cramps and vomiting when you are getting conditioned. I thought this was what was happening – her body was conditioning and she was having physical symptoms.

In between her first and second grade years, Kayla began having struggles with her medical issues. She put on weight from the medications and we had a few challenges. When it came time to run track, I assumed her nausea, flushed cheeks, and weakness were due to lack of conditioning. I thought she just needed to push through and eventually her body would follow suit.  I had no idea that these symptoms she was experiencing were life threatening and a warning sign that anaphylaxis was fast approaching.

During one of Kayla’s visits with Dr. Randhawa, her symptoms were brought up. I thought maybe he would be able to help us condition her in a way that was more comfortable, given all of her other medical conditions. What he said shocked me, “I think she may have exercise induced anaphylaxis, and we need to test her.”

I can remember thinking, “Anaphylaxis caused by exercise. How is that possible?”

Dr. Randhawa challenged her system with an exercise test. Only 2 minutes into the test, her heart rate raised and her blood pressure dropped and separated. The test was immediately stopped. What Dr. Randhawa had suspected was quickly demonstrated during the exercise test – Kayla has E.I.A. (Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis). She was told she could not run. Kayla was devastated.

Dr. Randhawa is unique in the manner with which he handles his patients. He recognized Kayla’s devastation and put a plan together to get her back on the track. We experimented with two different medications – midodrin and cortef. Kayla was also told she no longer could eat wheat or celery – as both of these foods enhance E.I.A.  With time, everything became balanced enough for her to begin running again.Screenshot_2015-10-02-13-04-12 (2)

Kayla wore a heart rate monitor while she ran, I had a blood pressure cuff with me at all times, and her EpiPens were always within a few feet of her. The coaches and parents on her school track team were incredible. It was this village of people who allowed her to run. They were taught about her symptoms and trained on what to do if they arose. Kayla was taught to constantly check her heart rate monitor and maintain a certain reading.

As her mom, it is terrifying placing my child in a situation where anaphylaxis can occur. Knowing that running stimulates an anaphylactic reaction, and I am allowing the situation is challenging. Dr. Randhawa provided numerous resources to help us learn and understand this condition. Yes, it is life-threatening.  However, when E.I.A. is treated correctly, monitored safely, and challenged in a controlled setting prior to team runs, it is a condition that can be managed. Though extremely rare in children, and lacking in protocol for them, Dr. Randhawa knew what to do and how to keep her running. Instead of crushing her spirit and keeping her off of the track, Dr. Randhawa found a way for Kayla to continue doing what she enjoyed.

Kayla is now twelve. What felt like a long journey, began six years ago, half of her lifetime. E.I.A is a scary, life-threatening diagnosis. However, with the right physician and plan in place, exercise does not have to be stopped, just modified with safety precautions. We are so thankful that Kayla can continue doing what she loves!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *