We all know someone with allergies. Most are, at worst, minor annoyances. Just think of them as minor little glitches in our bodies’ defenses to actually harmful things.
Sometimes, though, things go seriously wrong with our bodies’ autoimmune response mechanisms seem out to get us when the allergy in question becomes severe enough to kill. It gets even worse when the thing we are allergic to is something we can’t even avoid. Imagine if you were deathly allergic to water, or sunlight, or even yourself.
How would you cope? What would you do to get by? The following are just a few of the strangest allergies an unlucky few have to live with every day.
This condition, also called aquagenic urticaria, is characterized by the development of rashes, hives, or sores on the skin when it comes into contact with water. What kind of water- doesn’t make a difference!
People who have this allergy sometimes have to resort to drinking only soft drinks for liquid because the water content of coffee, tea, or juice is too high and could make their throat swell up.
Bathing also becomes an issue. How do you bath when you break out in sores at the contact of water? Very, very quickly it turns out. Very infrequently too I’d bet, though I can’t blame them.
Sweating or crying is also an issue since tears and sweat are mostly water. How terrible would that be to be in pain and if you cry it would only make it worse?
This allergy, also called seminal plasma hypersensitivity, mostly affects women. Why is that? The reaction is in response to a protein found in seminal fluid (not the sperm, just the fluids). These proteins can vary slightly among individuals so a woman might be allergic to one man’s semen but not another’s.
This allergy is also rare enough that the symptoms, which include burning, swelling, itching, pain, and redness, are often mistaken for an STD like herpes or a yeast infection when they occur around the genitals.
However, the symptoms will also occur on any part of a person’s body that comes into contact with the seminal fluid they are allergic to. There’s a topic for the couples counselor.
Interesting fact: Semen is mostly water. That means that those poor people with a water allergy are also allergic to semen.
Ok, this one might not seem so bad at first (the best excuse not to work out ever right?) but, imagine going into anaphylactic shock anytime you tried to do anything even mildly strenuous like dancing, or horseback riding, or even walking.
Some of the symptoms also include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, hives, diarrhea, hypotension, and death. Doesn’t sound so cool anymore, does it?
With this one, it’s not actually the exercise itself that people are allergic to, it’s something else (usually food) but the symptoms aren’t triggered until physical exertion is experienced.
So I guess you’d be ok if you can figure out which foods you’re allergic too and avoid eating those before doing anything at all.
How can someone be allergic to a temperature, you’re probably asking. Well, the same way all allergies happen – an over-exuberant immune system.
Actually, being allergic to the cold is more common than you think. It can sometimes be caused by an infection or a blood disorder; syphilis can bring it on. Most of the time it is temporary and goes away once the infection is cured.
One of the side effects of this allergy includes anemia due to blood cells bursting. Other symptoms include rashes, hives, wheezing, excessive tiredness, and sluggish brain responses. For people with this allergy, a sudden drop in body temperature could even cause death.
Modern day vampires? Symptoms include blisters, redness, scaling, itching, burning, and swelling in response to direct sunlight. It would certainly look like they were being burned by the sun.
It is very rare but is most common among women (why are women more prone to all the bizarre allergies?) who live in temperate areas (meaning: not much sunlight). As anyone who lives in a temperate zone would attest, our bodies are always confused by sunlight.
Greene, A. (1999, February 8). Cold Allergies and What can be Done About Them. Retrieved from http://www.drgreene.com/qa-articles/cold-allergies/
Huynh, P. (2015, November 17). Exercise-Induced Anaphylaxis. Retrieved from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/886641-overview
Polymorphous light eruption. (2015). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001477.htm
Sturgess, K. (2015, December 27). Here’s what happens when you develop an allergy to water. Retrieved from http://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-happens-if-you-develop-an-allergy-to-water
What is sperm allergy? (2016). Retrieved from http://www.issm.info/education-for-all/sexual-health-qa/what-is-sperm-allergy