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January 5, 2012

What is a Fake Allergy?

Just because you're experiencing a rash or shortness of breath, it doesn't mean you're having an allergic reaction. For a set of symptoms to indicate a TRUE allergy, they must be caused by an immune-system response to an allergen-think pollen or mold. That response produces ANTIBODIES to the allergen, and THAT, IN TURN causes the body to release histamine and other chemicals. It is those chemicals that cause allergy symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose or hives. However, what I call "FAKE" allergies DO NOT TRIGGER the immune system's production of ANTIBODIES. So even if histamines are released, it is not a true ALLERGIC reaction. There are five common triggers of FAKE allergies.Number one is WATER Some people experience painful hives when water hits their skin. Or in even more rare cases, they experience swelling of the throat when they drink a glass of water. The explanation for this reaction is that water, especially FRESH water and some tap water, may contain CHEMICALS that cause skin irritation. But doctors have yet to pinpoint an exact cause since there are so many variables in the mix here. For now, all they can do is hypothesize that elevated histamine levels play a role, hence the inflammatory reactions.Fake Allergy #TWO--Alcohol. Symptoms similar to a food allergy - such as stomach pain, bloating, or cramping - can occur after drinking alcohol, but those symptoms are caused by what is called an INTOLERANCE reaction. The body cannot breakdown the alcohol due to a lack of a specific enzyme. This condition, which is fairly common among the Asian population, causes gastrointestinal symptoms, along with reddening of the skin, dizziness and increased body temperature. Faker #THREE is EXTREME temperatures. We're talking about anything below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Reactions have been known to show up after hot showers, a sauna, swims in cold water, and outdoor winter sports. In hypersensitive people, temperatures can trigger the release of histamines and that leads to itchy, red, swollen skin and welts. PRESSURE is number four. According to some experts, 5 percent of the population break out in hives and welts when pressure is applied on the skin, or they are grabbed too firmly, touched too hard, or even if they wear clothes that are too tight. Although the symptoms are similar to ALLERGIC skin reactions that are triggered by a hypersensitive immune system, there is no immune system involvement. Irritated skin cells release histamine in direct response to pressure and contact and that is responsible for the symptoms.And FIVE is exercise. For some people, exercise-induced reactions can cause itchy, painful hives and swelling of the neck, torso and extremities. Rarely, people may find that as their body temperature rises, they have bouts of vomiting, trouble breathing and increased blood pressure.Some may even experience anaphylaxis, a potential life-threatening reaction that causes difficulty breathing and shock. A person may find that exercise-induced anaphylaxis attacks are not consistently triggered by the same type or intensity of physical activity. There may be co-factors such as foods, alcohol, temperature, aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, humidity, seasonal changes, and hormonal changes. A distinct subset of exercise-induced anaphylaxis is called food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis. In this case, anaphylaxis develops only if physical activity occurs within a few hours of eating a specific food.To learn more about allergies, check out other videos on this site.
Last Updated:
July 16, 2012