Swelling after cycling

I have an issue that seems weird to me: My face swells up after cycling. It’s most pronounced when riding unaccustomed distance or days in a row; for example, right now in in the middle of a 10-day tour and my eyes are swollen half shut and I hardly recognize my face in the mirror. But it happens to some degree any time I ride long or hard. It happens most outdoors, but a little indoors, too, if it’s a heavier week of training.

Does anyone else experience this? If so, have you figured out what causes it and/or how to prevent it?

Check what you are eating or drinking. This sounds like an allergic reaction to something you are using while riding not the physical activity itself.

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On reflection, since it happens to some degree consistently, I would talk to a medical professional.


I second that. it sure is something a bit unusual, go have it checked just to be on the safe side


Agree, sounds like an allergic reaction. Could be something environmental too, and exercising may be making it worse because of histamine release during exercise. I’d get checked out by a medical professional!


This. Was going to ask where you lived @DameCristy

@CPT_A Minnesota! Currently cycling in UP Michigan.

@Coach.Suzie.S , can you tell me a little more about histamine release during exercise? Never heard of that.

Interestingly, I never get classic allergy symptoms like itchy eyes, runny nose, or sore throat. Just swollen face, eyes especially.

And is this a recent phenomenon - say this spring/summer - or long-term?

@CPT_A , I first noticed it in 2014, so long standing issue.

Update! After eight days in a row of long rides, my facial swelling is going down. At the same time, my body had shown in other ways that it is making peace with this level of activity; my muscles aren’t sore, the edema that comes with sore muscles is almost gone, and I’m not so tired. So it really seems that, whatever this is, it’s part of my body’s adaptation response.


Fabulous that it has cleared up! I wonder if it could be some kind of kidney issue related to the impacts of the extreme exercise. No medical knowledge/training I just mention it because my dad suffered this kind of swelling (not exercise related) which crept up on him gradually due to kidney damage.


@colin.ledlie , that’s the word that will push me into the doctor’s office, because there is kidney disease in my family. Maybe it’s nothing to do with it, but I would be happy to be certain of that. Thanks!


Didn’t think of that as a possibility. She should have a full blood workup to include Kidney function tests. I was taking a ‘Chinese spice’ and it was shutting down my kidneys. I now have signs of Chronic Kidney Disease. Hope this is solvable and that the swelling goes away. (One of the keys I picked up was muscle edema, that almost always points to a kidney issue.)

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@jmckenzieKOS , how are you managing your CKD? Are you able to do endurance rides?

I’m on meds for Blood Pressure. I think the CKD finding is an anomoly. I do endurance rides, but I also consume alot of fluids…

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Update: I did see the doctor, and my kidneys are fine! But my TSH was very high. (I have no thyroid due to cancer.) So either my thyroid dose has been too low for some time and I just discovered it, or there is something about endurance exercise that brings about a big swing into hypothyroidism. I guess that would explain the puffiness along with some other symptoms.

Now I’m wondering where I can find an endocrinologist who does sports medicine to see if I can get some help with this.

I’d hate to say this but first try your insurance program to see who you can see and then Google for Sports Medicine Endocrinologist. It is not fun to look for one. It’s even more fun when you know what is wrong but getting everyone on board can be a downright PITA (try having inherited blood sugar issues that cause you to sweat like you are in a sauna when you are doing Yoga.)

Thanks for the tip, @jmckenzieKOS ! I hear the voice of bitter experience there. I may be in luck, because my primary doctor is married to a local endocrinologist. It’s possible she may be able to give me some names. Not that there’s any guarantee a single one of them will be in network. But at least I feel I have a place to start.

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Hey @DameCristy,
So sorry I missed the notification of your response and question you posed to me back in August, but I’m really happy to see that you’ve got some more information and answers now about whats really going on. Best of luck on this next step of finding an endocrinologist who understands sports medicine as well! Because we all know that not riding is not an option! :slight_smile: