Sunday, September 4, 2011

10 Weird Allergies

Allergies are caused by the body's defense system overreacting to some substance it comes in contact with. We're all familiar with the allergies to everyday things such as mold, pollen, specific foods, and animal dander. There are 40 to 50 million Americans allergic to these common bad guys. But you'd be surprised at the uncommon allergies people can develop.

Here's a list of 10 (in no particular order) weird and unusual allergies.

1) Water Allergy
Water is absolutely mandatory for our survival, but there are those rare people who get the hives from water. The hives and itching usually go away in 15 to 30 minus and antihistamines will relieve the symptoms.

2) Exercise Allergy
This type of allergy has only been officially reported in medical journals about 1000 times since the 1970s. Of course, unofficially is a different story…at one time or another I imagine most of us have professed an allergy to exercising. :)  In mild cases the result is hives. But in more severe cases it can lead to anaphylaxis, a dangerous condition where the blood pressure drops suddenly and there is difficulty breathing. This is the same type of reaction as severe food allergies such as those to peanuts or shellfish and is treated as a medical emergency, usually with injections of epinephrine.

3) Sun Allergy
Solar exposure can result in hives with the itching and stinging symptoms can be relieved with antihistamines, but not prevented. Sun allergy is very rare. The hives appear within 30 minutes of exposure to the sun and will clear up within minutes of getting out of the sun. Needless to say, avoiding the sun can prevent this reaction.

4) Electricity Allergy
Those who claim to suffer from electrosensitivity say they are sensitive to electric fields generated by products such as cell phones, microwaves, computers, and power lines. The symptoms include headache, ringing in the ears, fatigue, among other complaints. The experts say this is one type of allergy that you don't have to worry about because it doesn't exist. There have been several studies done and almost all of them have come up empty.

5) Shoes Allergy
A poison ivy-type rash on your feet after you've worn leather shoes could be allergic to the chemicals used in the leather tanning process. This type of allergy is known as contact dermatitis and can be diagnosed with a patch test. Contact dermatitis is somewhat of a catchall term for a common skin condition resulting from contact with many possible irritants. The solution to shoe allergy? Wear socks or shoes made from something other than leather.

6) Allergy to Money
Another type of contact dermatitis can be an allergic rash on your hands after handling coins. The culprit would most likely be the nickel metal in coins, also an alloy found in the manufacture of jewelry, zippers, and eyeglass frames among other things. The best treatment is to avoid the substance. Good luck with that one. :)

7) Allergy to Touch
This is known as dermographism and is another form of hives. The literal translation is skin writing and was named because with this type of allergy a person can write his name on his skin using nothing more than the pressure from a fingernail. That pressure on the skin causes an itchy hive reaction. This reaction can also be the result of tight clothing or even toweling off after a hot shower. The resultant itching can be controlled with antihistamines.

8) Cold Allergy
This allergy is very rare, but potentially dangerous. It can be life-threatening if a person with this allergy is suddenly exposed to extreme cold, such as diving into very cold water. This can cause a massive release of histamine, which can severely drop the blood pressure. Handling this kind of allergy is to focus on prevention such as avoiding exposure of large areas of skin to the cold.

9) Allergy To Pollinated Fruit
Millions of Americans have allergies to pollen and some of them could also experience a type of allergy known as oral allergy syndrome. This happens when someone allergic to pollen eats a fruit that contains the same protein as the pollen. This is a cross reactivity and can happen between such things as ragweed and bananas, grasses and tomato, and birch trees with apples, plums, or peaches. The symptoms are itchy mouth and throat and sometimes swelling of the lips and will go away if you swallow or spit out the fruit with treatment usually being unnecessary.

And finally…talk about weird allergies:

10) Semen Allergy
This is an extremely rare type of allergy in women. Symptoms are hives and swelling in the vaginal area after sexual intercourse. The best treatment is to use a condom. For women who want to get pregnant, they can get shots to treat semen allergy.


Jerrie Alexander said...

Interesting! Most of these allergies, i had'nt heard of. Being a Texan I can tongue-in-cheek say I'm allergic to the cold, but not in reality.

Nell Dixon said...

I have oral allergy syndrome and am allergic to apples. I hadn't used to be, it developed after the birth of my children. Now if I eat something containing apple, my lips and tongue swell, my face gets red and I have trouble breathing.

Samantha Gentry said...

Jerrie: I hadn't heard of several of them, either. And I know what you mean about the cold. :)

Thanks for commenting.

Samantha Gentry said...

Nell: That had to be a frightening experience the first time it have an allergy suddenly appear as an adult that hadn't been there before.

Lynne Marshall said...

At one point in my nursing career, I was an allergy nurse. I have heard of a few of these allergies, but wow, I'm glad we never came across some of the others! Exercise induced asthma is more common than you think. Some folks can't take hot showers! And we used to do the ice cube test on some patients. Crazy stuff.
I suffer from the common grasses, weeds, and trees stuff, plus dust mites. Kind of makes me a year round sufferer. I know, TMI!
Thanks for another fun blog.

Samantha Gentry said...

Lynne: For someone saying they are allergic to exercise sounds like a far-fetched excuse but when you refer to it as exercise induced asthma it makes complete sense.

Thanks for your comment.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Interesting list. Allergy to the sun can be extreme and I have seen news stories on children who have it and have to be kept hidden from the sun at all times. Semen allergy is more an allergic reaction to the protein in the semen and the shots are made up using the semen...a way to build up antibodies.

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

My little dog is allergic to grass, weeds, trees, beef, carrots, white potatoes, and a bunch of other things. She takes her allergy pills every day.

Samantha Gentry said...

Anna: Some of those allergies do seem weird (as in uncommon) but are certainly very serious to those who suffer from them

Thanks for commenting.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sue: I'm glad they have allergy pills for animals. It would be terrible if a dog couldn't run around in the yard or get near a tree.

Thanks for stopping by.

Harlie Reader said...

I've actually heard of the semen allergy. Can be very painful. Thanks for the list.

You always have interesting posts.

Samantha Gentry said...

Thanks, Harlie. Glad you enjoyed it.

Willa Edwards said...

When I was in high school I babysat for a kid that was allergic to his own sweat. He didn't have a sever reaction, but he would get hives and rashes all those places you usually sweat, underarms, between his fingers and toes. His mom told me the doctor predicted he'd grow out of it around puberty.

The funniest part was it never slowed him down. He still ran around, played sports and sweat like crazy. It just didn't seem to bother him.