Many of us suffer from allergies of one sort or another. Many are seasonal, such as pollen allergies, others are with us at all times, such as peanut, milk, wheat, or shellfish allergies. They can be uncomfortable, disconcerting, or even life-threatening. Some are understood as to exposure and causation, and can often be controlled by using antibody serums derived for a particular allergen. Some can be made more tolerable by using antihistamines, steroids, or other categories of drugs.
There are many rare, unusual, and often untreatable allergies. Here are a few examples of these culled from the British Guardian newspaper. If you’re a hypochondriac, read no further.
Jayden Ewing-VanderYacht has food allergies so severe that they prevent him from eating almost all solid foods.
Jayden, 3, of Birch Bay, Washington, was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis at 14 months old and only can eat grapes, onions and avocados.
As the young boy watches his older siblings eat regular foods, Jayden must receive his nourishment from hypoallergenic formula that costs his parents more than $500 a month in insurance co-payments.
There is no cure for the non-fatal disease, but Jayden eventually may need a feeding tube, according to doctors.
This is how the disease works: Jayden’s white blood cells think of solid foods as parasites and attack his body. At any given time, the boy’s body can reject even the foods he is currently able to eat.
The family is hoping to raise enough money so that Jayden can be treated at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, one of two hospitals in the country that treats severe food allergies.
Cara Duncan is banned from getting any pocket money because she’s allergic to coins. Nine-year-old Cara suffers a severe reaction to the nickel in the money causing her hands to break out in sores and spots when she touches anything containing the metal. She has to wear cotton gloves to protect her skin whenever she touches money, jewellery, belt buckles, buttons and even the garden gate.
Grace Morley suffers from one of the world’s rarest allergies which could kill her in minutes. The 14-year-old goes into toxic shock if she eats an apple – near to a birch tree. Strangely, Grace has no reaction to either the fruit or tree pollen on their own. But together they form a potentially deadly combination. The allergy developed suddenly as Grace played outdoors with a bunch of friends.
Doctors believe that the birch tree pollen must have a subtle affect on her immune system that causes it to go into overdrive when it comes into contact with apple juice.
Timmy Armstrong, a six year old from Plainfield, CT, has eosinophilic esophagitis, like Jayden Ewing-VanderYacht, above. Timmy can only eat venison, and very small amounts of natural oats, salt, and sugar. He is primarily fed through a tube.
The disease is relatively new but on the rise, so doctors do not know what the long-term effects will be. Dr. Jeffrey Hyams at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center told WTNH that the disorder has become widespread in the last 10 to 15 years and that doctors are seeing an average of two new cases a week.
Considering our bodies are around 60 per cent water, it seems one of life’s more implausible conditions, but aquagenic urticaria, or water allergy, is one of a number of forms of an allergy group called urticaria. Other forms of urticaria include allergies to such common things as sunlight, cold, or exercise which causes sweating. All of these conditions manifest themselves by causing the skin to break out in painful hives and welts.
Only around 30-40 people worldwide are thought to have been diagnosed with the condition of water allergy, which was first described in 1964.
Within minutes of the skin making contact with water, painful blisters and rashes appear which can last for anything from 15 minutes to two hours or more. There is no treatment other than to avoid contact with water, even in the form of tears, sweat, bathing, or rain drops.
In severe cases, the afflicted suffer similar symptoms in their throat if they even drink water.