Allergies: love-hate relationship

The fresh smell of spring… it’s beautiful unless your nose becomes congested after you take that first sniff. Unfortunately for me, I am one of those poor souls with spring allergies. For the next month as the temperature slowly keeps rising, all I can expect is sinus headaches and post-nasal drips. Just yesterday, I had the pleasant experience of bending over and feeling all of the fluid floating around in my sinuses rush towards my face. It’s actually much more painful than you would think. My mother and I also have the unfortunate symptom of vertigo every time spring rolls around. I also experienced that yesterday, which caused me to sit on the couch with my eyes wide open in wonder. How on earth can my body feel like it’s moving in circles while my eyes are telling me I’m perfectly stationary? It’s almost supernatural.

While I do absolutely hate my allergies, I also can’t help but think they are the funniest things in the world. I am currently taking immunology, and just this past week we discussed how allergies work. It was hilarious to write out all the categories of allergies and realize that either myself or someone in my family has an allergy in every single category. I mean, I’m allergic to hay, ragweed, mold, dust, nickel, jojoba oil, salicylic acid, latex, some medication that I probably should know, most perfume-y things, and even bananas. One of my brothers is allergic to cats, while the other is allergic to dogs. My mom has all the same allergies as I do, while my dad is deathly allergic to poison ivy. My sister-in-law is even allergic to the sun. Now what makes this even more amusing is that fact that all of us grew up living on a farm (ie. allergy central for someone who is allergic to many plant pollens, small particles, and animals). During my immunology class, my instructor stated that those who grew up on farms have fewer allergies than those who didn’t. While it made sense, I couldn’t help but wonder what the heck happened with my family. Then my professor proceeded to say that allergies may in fact be genetic. Bingo.

While this is quite entertaining, I think the cause of allergies themselves is the funniest part of all. You see, we all have this wonderful, complex immune system. Surprisingly, we have a ridiculous amount of things in our immune system that fend off parasites/helminths, and certain things in our environment, like animal dander and plant pollen, resemble these critters. So next time your eyes get red and your nose starts running because of allergies, it’s because your body thinks worms are attacking your eyes and nose. Pleasant thought, right?

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