Sunday, May 25, 2014

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 minutes 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 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 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 electro sensitivity 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 and 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 reaction 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, there are shots to treat semen allergy.


Ashantay said...

Okay, this list is officially strange - but I'm smiling because severe allergies play a role in my latest WIP. I now have another plot twist - thanks to you!

KyAnn said...

My oldest has two on the list. He is allergic to cold and exercise, but strange he is also allergic to stress. the kid can't lie to me or he breaks into hives. talk about tough. I'd put him into the time out chair when he was little and the poor kiddo would have an allergic reaction. But cold is his biggest trigger and he snowboards. so yep, he carries an epi pen.

Samantha Gentry said...

Ashantay: My pleasure...always happy to offer a helping thought. :)

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

KyAnn: The human being is such a complex life form...being allergic to a tangible--something one can hold in the hand and/or touch such as pollen, pet dander, or peanuts--is commonplace and easier to avoid. But an allergy to an intangible such as cold (you can't touch it, but it can definitely reach out and touch you without your cooperation) makes it very difficult to keep safe.

Thanks for your comment.

Samantha Gentry said...

(From Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter, she tried to post a comment and it wouldn't post, so she asked me to post it for her)

I think I left a comment. My computer took too long to save it, so I went to the audio "to prove I'm not a robot," and before I could do that, it disappeared back to the first screen where I saw my comment had been saved. If it doesn't appear, here's my comment:

I'm one of those poor people who are allergic to cold. Discovered it when my first child was 2 in 1979 and we were on a swing on a somewhat chilly day. When I started swinging, the cold and the wind broke my chest and back out in extremely itchy hives. It went away for a few years in the early 1990s but came back in the late 1990s-grrrrrrrr. The doctor said it was my body's immune response basically going loco. Avoiding cold is hard, cold water sets off the reaction in my hands and wrists, as well as being outside too long in the winter, sitting in a fan in the evening where I live (valley in the country) and too cool showers. I've adjusted but it is a pain in the neck many times.

Samantha Gentry said...

Sandy: All the things with cold allergy really surprised me. It's a lot more than being out in that literally freezing weather. What I had read even mentioned cold drinks such as iced tea causing a reaction. But even with that what you mentioned, things like having your hands in cold water in the kitchen while preparing food, hadn't occurred to me. That really demonstrates how difficult it is to stay away from what triggers the allergic reaction.

Thanks for sharing your experience.