It seems as though everyone, at some point or another, develops an allergy to something. Plenty of people suffer, to varying degrees, from the effects of seasonal allergies. Others are allergic to dust or mold or even to their own pets. But some people have to deal with much more unusual allergies, which can make living or getting through each day a particular challenge.
While you probably already know if you’re allergic to one of the following unusual allergies or not, it’s still interesting to get to know what they are and what you can do about them.
OK, the good news first: being allergic to water is very rare. Around one out of every 23 million people or so is allergic to water. That said, if you are one of the very few with an allergy to water, life can be very difficult.
The primary symptom of a water allergy is the development of itchy hives after your skin comes into contact with water. For some people, exposure to their own sweat or tears can be enough to trigger a reaction. Doctors aren’t 100 percent certain what causes the allergy to develop, but it is more common in women than in men and typically starts around puberty.
Two hypotheses exist to explain the allergy. One potential cause is a substance or allergen found in water that causes the immune system to overreact. Another potential cause is a reaction between something on the skin or in the skin and water. The reaction creates a toxic substance, which triggers the hives.
Antihistamines can help reduce the hives created by the allergy. Some people with a water allergy find that they are able to drink or bathe with distilled water.
Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Being allergic to raw fruits and vegetables might not sound like a particularly unusual allergy to have. But often, it’s what causes the allergy that makes it so unusual. For example, for many people, being allergic to a particular type of pollen can also trigger an allergic reaction to certain types of raw produce.
This type of allergy is something known as cross-reactivity. One common occurrence of cross-reactivity is found in people who are allergic to the pollen produced by birch trees. Those with a birch allergy are often allergic to raw apples, stone fruits (cherries, peaches, etc.) and hazelnuts. It could be that those fruits and nuts are grown near birch trees.
Another instance of cross-reactivity is also seen in people who are allergic to ragweed. Those who have an allergy to ragweed might also be allergic to bananas, melons and cucumbers.
Some people experience the signs of seasonal allergies — such as a runny nose, congestion and sneezing — after they eat meat. Others with a meat allergy might develop a rash or feel sick to their stomachs. In this case, meat can refer to the flesh of any animal, such as beef, pork, chicken or lamb.
You can develop an allergy to meat at any point over the course of your life, but there are some factors that might make the allergy more likely to occur. For instance, some people develop an allergy to red meat after being bitten by the Lone Star tick. Why that occurs isn’t exactly clear. Children with milk allergies might also have an increased risk for developing an allergy to meat.
Often, the best way to treat a meat allergy is to avoid eating the food that causes the allergic reaction.
Here’s an excuse to skip the gym: some people are allergic to exercise. An exercise allergy is definitely one of the more unusual allergies out there, since it is very rare and is often connected to another type of allergy. People who are allergic to exercise might develop hives when they engage in any sort of vigorous physical activity. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis occurs in more severe cases.
Occasionally, people who are allergic to exercise will develop symptoms after eating certain foods, such as shellfish, grapes or hazelnuts. Exercising after eating those foods can often trigger the symptoms.
Plenty of people don’t like going out in the cold. But for a very small group of people with a cold allergy, or cold urticaria, exposure to freezing temperatures can be downright dangerous. The good news is that cold allergies only affect about 1 percent of the population. The allergy is more common in children and teens and usually resolves after a few years.
The bad news is that for people with an allergy to cold temperatures, the allergic reaction can range from itchy hives to full-on shock. Diagnosing the allergy can also be difficult, as people typically assume they are allergic to a substance or ingredient, not frigid air.
Diagnosing and Treating Unusual Allergies
It’s possible for a doctor to diagnose even the strangest of allergies by performing an allergy test. Treating the allergies depends on the trigger and the severity of the condition. Some people benefit from allergy shots while others are better off avoiding the allergen as much as they can.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with sinus problems and allergies in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. If you think you might have an unusual allergy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.