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Strange but True: Weird Allergies to Normal Things

written by: kristenrosenthal • edited by: dianahardin • updated: 5/19/2011

At some time or another, most people have been subjected to "normal" allergies such as seasonal hay fever, or maybe even food allergies. In addition, there are some very strange allergy symptoms only few people suffer with at any given time.

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    Most people are familiar with the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies, like sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. Some are even very familiar with contact allergies or even food-associated allergies. There are, however, many uncommon allergies with a variety of strange symptoms. These allergies are sometime harder to diagnose, since they are less commonly seen by doctors and health care employees, and are often much more serious than your run of the mill hay fever.

    An allergy, according to Medline Plus, is a reaction of your immune system to something that normally does not bother most people. Your immune system normally protects you from bacteria and viruses to keep you from getting sick. Unfortunately, allergens (the substance you are allergic to) can cause a false alarm for your immune system, which then releases substances, which causes most allergy symptoms, to fight off the threat.

    Normal things we all come in contact with on a daily basis cause some of the weirdest allergies, with strange allergy symptoms to accompany them.

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    Allergies to Sun, Water, and Heat

    One strange allergy symptom, called urticaria, results in unusual hives that may cover a large portion of your body. These hives are a result of your skins reaction to normal stimuli, such as sunlight, water, heat, or even pressure and vibrations on the skin. These conditions can be quite severe and the best treatment is usually avoidance, when possible, or medications such as antihistamines when avoidance is impossible. Chronic urticaria may afflict around 20% of people at some point in their life (Dice, 2004).

    Yes, strange as it may seem, some people are allergic to sun or water!

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    Allergies to Exercise

    To some people, exercise can trigger a variety of strange allergy symptoms, including difficulty breathing (asthma or bronchospasm), runny nose and congestion (rhinitis), hives (urticaria) and even a systemic reaction with a drastic decrease in blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and even death (anaphylaxis).

    This weird allergy is most commonly observed after running or swimming and sometimes accompanies a food allergy, occurring when you exercise after eating a certain food like wheat or shrimp. (Schwartz, 2008).

    Although no joking matter to those afflicted, this allergy may be your ticket to avoiding too much exercise!

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    Allergies to Kissing

    There are claims of being allergic to a kiss. Most often, the “kissee" is not allergic to the kiss itself, but to an allergen in the saliva of the “kisser." Those who are extremely allergic to food, medicines, or even substances in cosmetics and lip balm may be at risk of the “kissing allergy."

    The strange allergy symptoms associated with this allergy occurs rapidly after the kiss and include flushing, itching, and swelling of the lips and surrounding area and sometimes even included wheezing or difficulty breathing. Luckily, only 5% of those who report having food allergies to nuts or seeds reported reactions from kissing (Hallett, 2002).

    If you know you have severe food allergies, you may want to warn your date before going in for that goodnight kiss!

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    Allergies to Cell Phones and iPods

    With the ubiquitous use of cell phones and iPods, an allergy to these devices seems catastrophic! Unluckily, there are some people who seem to be allergic to their favorite phones or iPod. These allergies have been attributed to one or two things: nickel (or other metals) or electromagnetic radiation.

    Allergies to nickel have been widely documented and can be confirmed with a patch test (Bercovitch, 2008). Allergies to electromagnetic radiation is much more controversial and is thought to be psychological rather than physical by some (Nieto-Hernandez, 2008; Rubin, 2008). Others, however, posit that electromagnetic fields can have effects on diseases, especially those associated with the immune system (Havas, 2006).

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    There are many strange allergy symptoms described on the internet and in scientific journals to accompany the growing number of weird allergies we can develop to every day items. As more substances are introduced to the general population by the accumulation of new technologies and products, more allergies are likely to develop due to an increase in the number of potential allergens in households.The development of allergies to new substances that may be found in every day items, like nickel or palladium in iPods or cell phones, remind us that allergies can develop to anything found in our immediate environment and that the introduction of foreign substances may result in unintended side effects in the population at large.

    Do you have a strange allergy symptom or a weird allergy? If so, we would love to hear about it! Please leave me comments about your weird allergies and you may be featured in an up coming article.

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    References

    Dice, J. Physical Urticaria. Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America. May 2004: 24(2).

    Schwartz LB, et al. Exercised-induced hypersensitivity syndromes in recreational and competitive athletes: A PRACTALL consensus report (what the general practitioner should know about sports and allergy). Allergy. 8 Jul 2008: 63(8). 953-961.

    Hallett R, Haapanen LAD, Teuber SS. Food allergies and kissing. N Engl J Med 2002;346:1833-1834.

    Nieto-Hernandez R, et al. Can evidence change belief? Reported mobile phone sensitivity following individual feedback of an inability to discriminate active from sham signals. J Psychosom Res. Nov 2008: 65(5). 453-460.

    Rubin GJ, Cleare AJ, Wessely S. Psychological factors associated with self-reported sensitivity to mobile phones. J Psychosom Res. Jan 2008: 64(1). 1-9.

    Havas M. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity: biological effects of dirty electricity with emphasis on diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Electromagn Biol Med. 2006: 25(4). 259-268.

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