Request for Feedback: Experimental Design to Determine if I have Allergy Induced Rhinitis (Runny Nose)

I've started paying more attention to my breathing in the past few weeks and have noticed that when I go for a walk in the mornings or a run in the evening, I develop a runny nose that goes away shortly after I go back inside. It's not terrible, but is annoying and prevents me from breathing comfortably through my nose.

From a quick search, my symptoms match closely with exercise induced rhinitis (list of articles). Numerous studies have found that exercise induced rhinitis is usually caused by allergies. I have never had nasal allergies, but it's possible I've developed them or that they've always been mild enough that I haven't noticed.

I'd like to determine whether my symptoms are, in fact, being caused by allergies and, if so, if there's any simple interventions I can do to mitigate them.

Here's my plan:

  • Step 1: Test if the symptoms are caused by just being outside or only during exercise
    • Go outside to the same location where I exercise and wait for 30 min. (same length as walks/runs).
    • Record whether I develop a runny nose and its severity.
  • Step 2 Test if the symptoms are ameliorated by allergy medication
    • Take fast-acting allergy medication or a placebo 1 hour before exercising.
    • Record whether I develop a running nose and its severity.
    • This experiment will be blinded by placing the pills inside of opaque gel caps and have another person randomize the treatment days for me.
    • Run the experiment for 10 weekdays & 4 weekend days (exercise locations differ)
    • If no effect is seen, repeat this experiment with long-acting (24h) allergy medication, but randomize by week instead of by day.


  • Does this approach seem reasonable? Any other measurements/tests I should try?
  • Does anyone else have this problem? If so, any recommendations for interventions to try?

Thanks in advance for your help!

1 Like

Have you considered a KN95 face mask to reduce outdoor allergens?
Can you exercise indoors and see if there is an effect?

I did try rowing indoors at the same duration & intensity as running. I do not get a runny nose. Unfortunately, I don’t think that distinguishes between a temperature- and allergy-based cause.

The KN95 is a great idea. I can also try a less effective mask that still keeps the air warm to distinguish between temperature and allergies.

I have the same problem, which also occurs after eating (“gustatory rhinitis”). I didn’t even know it was unusual until, like you, I just started paying attention.

I think before an experiment you should ask what you would do with the information you learn. In my case, my symptoms are easily treatable with kleenex, which beats taking whatever antihistamine or other drug that might be suggested.

Thank you for your post. I wish there were good data on exactly how common this condition is. If it’s genetic, or related to something immutable like nose length, I would be more inclined to chalk it up to a minor inconvenience and simply be grateful it’s not something much worse.

That’s a good way to think about. In my case, my symptoms aren’t severe enough to make it worth taking medication, but there are three possible uses for the information depending on the result:

  1. If it is not an allergy, but instead temperature-induced, I would try out methods of warming the air I’m breathing (people have suggested various kinds of masks).

  2. If it is an allergy, I’m would keep an eye out for further worsening of my allergies over time and would be able to stop considering other causes.

  3. I’m interested in developing & demonstrating self-experiment methodologies for figuring out problems of this type, so getting a clear answer would have value independent of the specific result.

In this case, allergies are recurrent and very complex. However, in the period of covid19 I was forced to go out with KN95 to the street and it was a magic solution for allergy, in fact in the spring of 2020 (southern hemisphere) I used kn95 a few days at home due to the high levels of pollination and greatly decreased allergy symptoms. You can also try nasal ointment, what that ointment does is trap the particles before they enter through your nose[1], so you rule out air temperature issues and you can confirm that it is a nasal allergy. Another important issue is to know if it is an allergy to pollen from flowers or for example to air pollution. using some kind of sensor for this might be a good idea, or geopositioning to determine if symptoms are greater in urban areas with high density of cars or allergy occurs when you run in a park.
[1] Unguento Nasal | Productos | Salcobrand