Humans can be allergic to almost everything. Allergies run the gamut from strawberries, to cats, to cockroaches, which may be the most disgusting of them all. When Spring comes around shooting pollen into the air, forget about it. Approximately 50 million people in the United States are affected by nasal allergies.

Allergies can also be as strange as they are diverse. Strange is certainly the case with one teenage girl in Canada who has an unusual food allergy that presents itself only after she exercises.

The allergic reaction first appeared after she ate a snack of hummus and crackers and then began exercising on a treadmill. She had been running for 10 minutes when she noticed her lips were beginning to swell. When she stopped running, the situation worsened. She developed anaphylaxis with puffy eyes, hives, itching, and abdominal pain.

The 17-year-old was taken to a local emergency department and recovered three hours later following treatment with diphenhydramine and epinephrine. Allergy testing later revealed that the hummus she had eaten before exercising was the culprit. She was allergic to chickpeas. But what confused the girl was that she had eaten hummus a number of times without symptoms, and she had never experienced an allergic reaction after exercising, until now.

She was diagnosed with food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis (FDEIA), a rare allergy that occurs when a person eats a particular food before exercising. People with the condition do not react to either the specific food or the exercise when they are isolated activities. The reason for the combo-allergy is not completely understood, but it is thought that the physical effort when exercising triggers a physiological change that boosts the absorption of the allergen.

Since her diagnosis, the teen has eaten chickpeas without exercising and has not reported any allergic reactions. Doctors recommended that if she continues to eat the snack, she should wait at least two hours before exercise.

What is the strangest allergy you’ve encountered in your practice?  Share your experience in the Comments section below.

Reference

  1. Allergy facts. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. http://acaai.org/news/facts-statistics/allergies. 2014. Accessed October 8, 2015.
  2. Rettner R. Unusual allergy: Girl reacts to food only after exercise. LiveScience website. http://www.livescience.com/52310-food-allergy-exercise.html. Published September 25, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015.