It’s May and spring is in the air, literally. In many places across the US, we wake up each morning to a sea of yellow pollen covering our backyards and neighborhoods. My wife and four-year-old son can’t go outside this time of year without constantly rubbing their itchy noses. I’ve never been affected by it myself though–or so I thought.
Recently someone posed the following question in a company-wide Slack channel:
“Has anyone else noticed an elevated respiratory rate due to seasonal allergies? I’ve been waking up stuffed up lately, and my respiratory rate has been about 0.5-1.0 breaths higher than normal for the last week.”
Suddenly, an alarm went off in my head. That very week, I had seen my own respiratory rate (which I’ve been checking daily for the past 15 months or so in the time of COVID) spike by about half a breath per minute. Unless I drink, am feeling sick, or sleep poorly for some other reason, my nightly respiratory rate almost never changes, staying between 13.9 and 14.1.
But for the past few days it’d jumped to 14.4, and it occurred to me at that moment that I had also been waking up with a stuffy nose lately.
Upon further review, my REM and deep sleep (the restorative stages of sleep) percentages were down slightly, my light sleep was up, and my recoveries were in the yellow all week.
The official term is seasonal allergic rhinitis (which means “inflammation of the nose”), often referred to as “hay fever.” It’s a common allergic reaction to pollen in the air from trees, grass and weeds. An estimated 10-30% of adults in the US are affected by this, and potentially 40% of all children.
Below are some examples of what we’ve heard from WHOOP members on the subject via social media:
@whoop y’all did it again. I notice my recovery going down past few days n Respiratory going up, so I took allergy meds. N sure enough allergies are starting. Thanks to whoop I was able to see this n started meds n rest. Early detection. #knowyourself pic.twitter.com/Qajw2FEztp
— Anthony Vazquez (@spider_dad_35) December 18, 2020
“This is the year I go to an allergy specialist. My breathing shouldn’t do all of this because of pollen. The exact day the pollen count jumped my respiratory rate did too. Another reason it’s good to have WHOOP.” – Stephon W
Anyone with a @whoop see crazy low recoveries during allergy season? Between allergy medicine and fighting stuffy nose, sneezes etc, my recoveries have tanked. This happened a few weeks ago when allergies first started, but popped up big again a few days ago. @willahmed
— Neal Doyle (@ndoyle) May 10, 2021
“I love my WHOOP and all the data analytics!! I have severe pollen and tree allergies in the Spring. This last week, my allergies have been very bad and my recovery has been very low. Any chance WHOOP could look into the correlations between allergies and HRV and recovery data?” – Jane B
With the latest addition to the WHOOP Journal, you can now monitor the impact seasonal allergies may have on your various WHOOP metrics, like respiratory rate, sleep, recovery, heart rate variability, and more.
To begin tracking seasonal allergies, first make sure you have the latest version of the WHOOP app installed. When answering your daily Journal questions, click the edit button in the upper right-hand corner (pictured above) to get to the “customize” screen. Then select “status” from the category options, and check off “seasonal allergies.”
Going forward, we can use this data to learn more about how seasonal allergies affect the body and impact human performance.
LEARN MORE: What Impact Do Seasonal Allergies Have on Your Sleep, Recovery, HRV & Respiratory Rate?
The products and services of WHOOP are not medical devices and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content available through the products and services of WHOOP is for general informational purposes only.