Nasal Allergy Advice From an Olympic Athlete

Two-time Olympic Gold medalist Misty May-Treanor is a frequent traveler, hopping from country to country for training and beach volleyball competitions. And while her nasal allergies can worsen in certain climates, she never lets them slow her down.

"I always team up with my doctor before peak allergy season instead of waiting for the symptoms to start," says May-Treanor, who will compete this summer in the 2012 Summer Games in London. (May-Treanor and her teammate, Kerri Walsh, who were gold medalists in 2004 and 2008, are the only beach volleyball team to repeat as gold medalists.)

Discussing how she copes with nasal allergies, May-Treanor explains: "For me, it was a matter of finding the right medication."

May-Treanor is a spokesperson for Ditch the Drip: Get Serious About Nasal Allergies, a campaign launched by Teva Respiratory and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America to highlight the seriousness of both indoor and outdoor allergies.

Nasal allergies, also called allergic rhinitis, affect more than 1 in 5 Americans. They trigger a constellation of symptoms that can range from a runny or itchy nose to tearing eyes to sneezing. Some sufferers experience a loss of productivity from work or school, and their quality of life may be reduced.

Symptoms begin when an affected person breathes in an allergen such as pollen or dust. Mold or pet dander can also trigger allergies. Allergies are common and you are definitely more likely to develop them if both your parents have them. The chance is greater when your mother has allergies.

Getting tested as soon as you have symptoms is important. May-Treanor says, "I urge people who have symptoms to get tested so that the allergies don't become worse."

As a young child, May-Treanor, who was born in Los Angeles in 1977, played beach volleyball with her parents at the Santa Monica Pier. She played her first volleyball tournament with her dad at the age of eight. From 1995 to 1999, she played volleyball in college for the Long Beach State 49ers, and in 1998, the team she was captain of was the first women's NCAA volleyball team to enjoy an undefeated season.

May-Treanor is especially passionate about beach volleyball. "There's more freedom and there are only two people on the court," she says. "So you are involved in every play and you have to develop all your skills."

Now living in Long Beach, May-Treanor finds that her allergies are more bothersome in some climates. Often, there's more pollen in the air on dry, hot, windy days—which means worsened symptoms.

"The Santa Ana dry, dusty winds can spark allergies for me, and I have much more trouble in dryer climates and when it is dusty," May-Treanor says. "When I was competing in Beijing, the smog sparked my allergies."

After this summer's Olympics, May-Treanor is planning to step away from volleyball competitions. She'd like to get a master's degree in coaching or athletic administration. "I'd like to coach sooner or later," she says. "I encourage kids to play a sport, not necessarily volleyball but any sport."




"What is allergic rhinitis?" The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

"Allergic rhinitis." Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health.