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Olympian Misty May-Treanor Speaks Out on Allergies

[1]Misty May-Treanor is the queen of the sand court – the two-time Olympic gold medalist in beach volleyball. As she gears up for the Summer Games in London, her eye is keenly on the ball for a shot (along with partner Kerri Walsh) at an incredible third gold medal for Team USA.

One thing May-Treanor is adamant about this time, is that her nasal allergies won’t get in the way. They came close to doing so at the Beijing Games in 2008: “It started with the smog. It was hard to breathe,” May-Treanor told Allergic Living in a phone interview. She felt that the city’s air pollution was combining with her pollen allergies to bring on a sinus infection.

This is common for the Californian: her allergies kickstart symptoms that just get worse. In Beijing, they moved down into her chest. She and Walsh took the gold, “but it was unfortunate. Nobody wants to be sick when they’re competing in the Olympics,” she says.

When Teva Respiratory approached May-Treanor this year about taking part in a campaign called Ditch the Drip [2] – which aims to raise awareness of the health impact of allergic rhinitis – May-Treanor was all for it.

“Too often people just say: ‘It’s just sneezing and itchy eyes, I can handle it,’” she says. “But I’ve had sneezing attacks where it’s 20 sneezes in a row and your eyes feel all itchy. It gets in the way.”

May-Treanor liked that the campaign, which is also sponsored by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA [3]), emphasizes that people should not take the condition for granted, “but instead get checked out by a doctor.”

The campaign points out that under 20 percent of nasal allergy sufferers think their seasonal allergies are under control. This can lead  to sleep disturbances and impaired productivity.

“The key thing is being prepared” to handle your rhinitis, advises May-Treanor. Today, she takes her medications, is aware of the climate (and pollen count) going into a foreign country and meets with her trainers and allergist to make sure she’s receiving proper medications for her condition.

Next: Olympic Ready

For an elite athlete, especially one headed to the Olympics, being ready is hugely important. “We prepare in the weight room, we prepare on the court,” she says. “You need to prepare your body because the last thing you want to do is take a step back by getting sick or having symptoms that are disruptive.”

As for those looming Olympic Games, May-Treanor knows that she and Walsh face stiff competition. There are several strong beach volleyball pairs, including Brazil, China and another U.S. team. But she’s positive, hopeful and ever competitive to reach the podium.

“This is my last Olympics. I want to finish with Kerry on a high note; I want to go out with a bang.”

Read more about the Ditch the Drip campaign here [2].