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Why Do You Always Get a Runny Nose While Cycling?

By Monica Buck

We’ve all been there. As soon as it gets a little bit cold outside, our rides are instantly accompanied by an annoying runny nose. The questions that bother us are obvious. Why does it happen? And can anything be done about it?

The good news is cyclists are not alone in this fight. According to a study published in the journal Annals of Allergy, 96% of people have experienced some degree of this condition. The bad news is the reason for it. The cold-induced rhinorrhea, as doctors call it, is a natural reaction of our body. It warms up the air before it reaches your lungs and humidifies it. That is needed because the air gets much drier in winter.

The fluids your nose produces also help to filter out bacteria so they don’t reach your lungs. The fluids serve as a defence mechanism of sorts protecting you from getting seriously ill. Because if the bacteria actually reach your lungs and start multiplying, you get the common cold, and your nose has to work overtime even when you’re lying in a warm bed.

So if you want to help your body, you might want to try physically warming the nose by breathing into cupped hands in front of your face. But other than that, there is unfortunately not much you can do about it.