Runny Nose With Pre Workout: The Cause and Easy Solutions

pre workout runny nose

If you’ve ever taken a pre workout supplement before hitting the gym, you may have noticed yourself getting a runny nose shortly after. 

Is it all in your imagination? Can your pre workout actually be causing this?

Yes, pre workout does have the ability to cause a runny nose shortly after taking it. This is mostly due to the vasodilating effects by some ingredients in your pre workout.

Read on to learn what ingredients can be causing this and what you can actually do about it.

Why Does Pre Workout Give Me a Runny Nose?

Pre workout can give you a runny nose due to the increased vasodilation effects caused by certain ingredients inside.

After all, this is why we take it, right? We want more energy, stamina, and muscle pump during our workouts.

However, it is important to take into account what is actually happening within our bodies that give us that pump and increased blood flow, and the other unwanted and rather annoying side effects that can happen when we inject pre workouts containing stimulant ingredients.

Beta-alanine and Niacin

Many pre workout supplements contain beta alanine and niacin.

Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid which increases carnosine.

Carnosine plays a role in generating nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator. This is what gives you that pump and makes you feel stronger.

Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels, which can increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles. 

Niacin on the other hand is a B vitamin used in many pre workouts for energy and one of the common side effects is a runny nose.

pre workout vasodilation runny nose

Vasodilation of blood vessels can also cause a histamine release, which can lead to a runny nose.

Histamine is a chemical compound that plays a key role in the body’s immune response. 

It is released by certain cells in the body as a response to allergens or injuries, and it causes blood vessels to dilate, which allows immune cells to travel to the affected area and fight off any potential threats.

When the body experiences vasodilation, such as from taking a pre workout supplement containing beta alanine and niacin, it can lead to the release of histamine. 

Histamine can then cause the blood vessels in the nasal passages to dilate, leading to increased blood flow and fluid production. This can result in a runny nose, as well as other symptoms such as sneezing and itching.

You may have heard of taking an “antihistamine” medication before when you were sick or had bad allergies. This was likely to STOP your runny nose.

Related Post: Can Preworkout Make Your Lips and Mouth Dry?


Another common ingredient in pre workout supplements is caffeine, which usually causes congestion, however in some people can also cause a runny nose. 

Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn can cause nasal blood vessels to constrict.

Caffeine is actually the main ingredient in most pre workouts that give you that burst of energy.

But you might be thinking….wait….doesn’t caffeine constrict blood vessels?

You are correct that caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, which means that it causes blood vessels to narrow and can increase blood pressure. 

But, caffeine can act as a central nervous system stimulant, which can increase activity in the sympathetic nervous system and lead to nasal congestion and even a runny nose.

Everyone’s body reacts to different compounds in a different way. Caffeine may be playing a role in causing your runny or irritated nose, but it is more than likely caused by vasodilation from other ingredients.

Exercise-Induced Rhinitis

In addition to pre workout supplements, exercise itself can also cause a runny nose. Most people actually do not know this.

This condition is known as exercise-induced rhinitis, and it affects up to 40% of people who exercise regularly. 

The exact cause of exercise induced rhinitis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to increased blood flow to the nasal passages during exercise.

Yes, there is a chance that just exercising along could be causing your runny nose as well.

It may be worth a shot of halting your pre workout for a few days to see if you still get a runny nose without it.

Related Post: Can Pre Workout Cause Shrinkage?

What Can You Do About a Runny Nose?

If you experience a runny nose during exercise or after taking a pre workout supplement, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate the symptoms:

Blow Your Nose Before Working Out

Blowing your nose can help to clear out any excess mucus and reduce the amount of fluid in your nasal passages.

This can help to stop your nose from running for a good bit of time so that you can get through your workout without constantly wiping.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after exercise can help to thin out mucus and make it easier to clear out of your nose.

This way when you do actually blow your nose, what is inside will come out easier and not get stuck.

Try a Saline Nasal Spray

Saline nasal sprays can help to flush out excess mucus and reduce inflammation in the nasal passages.

These are relatively easy to find in any store.

Saline nasal sprays work by moisturizing and soothing the nasal passages, which can help to reduce inflammation and clear out mucus.

Consider an OTC Medication

In some cases, over the counter (OTC) medications such as antihistamines or decongestants may be helpful for managing your runny nose symptoms. 

However, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking any new medication, even if it is over the counter.

This is especially true if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications. So if you’re considering this…please talk to the doc first.

Wear a Cloth Wristband

If you absolutely cannot get your runny nose to ease up, try wearing a wrist band.

This way, you will easily be able to wipe your nose if it is runny without having to carry a towel around with you.

Just make sure it is a soft material that will not cause irritation and pain.

Avoid Triggers

There can be other certain triggers when working out that could cause a runny nose in addition to pre workout.

This can include cold and dry air inside the gym caused by HVAC or even if you are working out at home in dry air or even outside in low humidity weather.

To help with this problem, you could try using a face mask if the air is too dry. 

This will cause you to breathe in air with a higher level of moisture.

If you find that certain pre workout supplements or types of exercise consistently trigger a runny nose, try avoiding them or reducing your exposure to them.

One thing you could try is switching to a different pre workout and seeing if this stops your runny nose from happening when you work out.

Try a Different Pre Workout

You may want to try to find a new pre workout that does not contain any “pump” formula or vasodilator ingredients.

If you go on the search for a new pre workout, it is a good idea to stay away from the following ingredients to try to stop your runny nose:

  • Beta-alanine
  • Citrulline
  • Malate
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Niacin

These are in many pre workouts that are stated to give you a pump or provide muscle endurance.

Remember, these can cause vasodilation of the blood vessels in your nasal passages and cause increased mucous.

Finding a pre workout that does not contain any of the above mentioned ingredients may be a little bit of a feat, because these ingredients are very popular amongst most pre workouts, but there are “natural” pre workout supplements available that you could try.

Also, it’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Related Post: Can Pre Workout Make You Horny?

In Summary

Pre workout does have the ability to cause a runny nose depending on the ingredients in your chosen formula, but just exercise alone can cause this as well.

A runny nose during exercise or after taking a pre workout supplement can be an annoying and uncomfortable side effect. I know from my own experience.

However, understanding the underlying causes and taking simple steps to manage the symptoms can help to make your workouts more comfortable and enjoyable.

You can consider trying to find a pre workout that does not contain vasodilators, but this is likely going to be a tad bit difficult, or you may not feel the same effect as before.

However, it is worth a try. Also, have you considered trying other ways to boost your energy? What about coffee before a workout? This might be something that can give you the little boost you need to workout if pre workout runny nose is just too much to handle.

If switching your pre workout does not help, consider trying some of the other ideas above to see if they help you deal with your nose during workouts.