life: super powers not included

Everything You Never Knew About Allergies

Flower and sky
photo by mona rocks…not

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. The Man and I spent Easter at his brother’s house where we watched my nephew stuff so many malted milk eggs into his mouth that he spent the evening with a blue mustache and goatee. Ah, the lure of candy hidden in eggs.

So today I thought I’d give you the blow-by-blow on allergies. If you don’t have allergies this time of year, most people probably hate you. Don’t worry too much about that. They’re really just jealous.

But if your allergies attack as soon as trees start budding, find out what’s really going on. It’s not pretty, people.

What are allergies?
I’ve never seen one—they’re sneaky little bastards—but I did some digging and found that allergies are really little gremlins that attack at night when your windows are open. You might be thinking you’re letting some fresh air into your cigarette-smoky apartment, but you’d be wrong. You’re really inviting a bunch of little allergens into your room. For the unfamiliar, here is a scientific rendering of an actual allergy…

Gremlinsphoto from late night movie

What are the symptoms?
Once they’ve been invited in, allergens go straight for your weak points. They’ll crawl up your nose and make it scratchy and itchy. If you’re lucky, they’ll loosen the lever that controls your mucus; when you wake up, your nose will just run and run and run, and you’ll have no idea why.

If you’re unlucky—like me—the little allergens will break into your bathroom and steal all of your cotton balls. They will shove the cotton balls so far up your nose that air can’t get in. You won’t know it (because you’ll be asleep), but the little goblins will be sitting on your pillow laughing their high-pitched giggles as you desperately attempt to suck air through your cotton-balled nostrils.

Sure, you’re thinking, why would an allergen stuff an ordinary cotton ball up your nose? Good point. And, truthfully, the cotton balls aren’t ordinary. Before they carry the cotton as far north as your forehead, the allergens do some kind of voodoo to it. Because once the cotton is up in your nose it produces lightening. You may not feel it at once, but at some time when you’re not suspecting it, the cotton balls will let out a bit of lightening that will shoot from under your eyes, up your nose, and over your forehead. Sometimes the lightening just ignites into a headache.

Typically allergens like to reroute mucus. An allergy grows up learning in Allergy School that it’s boring when mucus comes out of the nose. It’s been done since the beginning of time, and allergens think that’s dumb. To keep themselves entertained, allergens will make sure mucus flows down the back of the throat instead of out the nose. They especially like this part because it helps start a sore throat.

Which brings me to another way allergens like to attack: through the mouth. I know, I know, it’s pretty gross to think of the little gremlins getting into your mouth, but it happens. You’ll know an allergy has gotten into your mouth when you feel a tickle or itchiness in the back of your throat. If you’ve been violated by a particularly mean allergy, you might feel the effects of its sandblasting on the inside of your throat.

Finally, there’s one last place the allergens attack: the eyes. They may start by sprinkling itching powder on your eyelids, but give them enough time and they’ll break out the big guns: sandpaper. When those little critters start sanding away, they don’t let up until your eyeballs are red and rough. Sometimes your eyes will burn like the little gremlins threw fire in your eyes. Other times they’ll feel so dry you’ll swear an allergy sprayed sand on your eyes overnight. And here’s the thing: You’ll never know.

Mama Gremlinphoto by mike fischer
Don’t be fooled by that killer lipstick. This allergy will do major damage.

What’s the treatment?
If you don’t catch the allergens early enough, they may hike up to your brain. There, the creatures will burrow into your pleasure center and flip a switch. Side effects may be grumpiness, irritability, annoyance, or any other synonym for crankiness.

Before the allergens take full control of your body, forcing headaches at their whim, head to your local pharmacy and buy its entire supply of Sudafed. When the pharmacist says you can’t buy more than two boxes of Sudafed because of some stupid law because of some stupid high schooler who turned it into crystal meth, attempt to explain that allergens have invaded your body and are doing crazy things to it! If the pharmacist persists, be prepared for all of the allergies in your body to take control of your crankiness zone and push it into overdrive.

You can dunk your head in cold water. You can squirt eye drops till your mascara streaks down your cheeks and people start calling you Crazy Lady at the grocery store. And you can blow your nose so hard that air comes out your eye socket (and, take it from my experience, this is very, very possible when you’re that congested). But none of it will work.

So here’s the best cure: patience. Wait it out. It may feel like 75 years, but soon the allergens will go back into hiding. Until Fall.

Do you have bad allergies?

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1 Tweets that mention Everything You Never Knew About Allergies — i'm (not) superhuman -- { 04.05.10 at 10:14 am }

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tracey Neithercott. Tracey Neithercott said: New post: Everything you never knew about allergies. [...]

2 FoodFitnessFreshair { 04.05.10 at 10:47 am }

Luckily I don’t have bad seasonal allergies. I am allergic to mold, which causes all kinds of problems, but I don’t get the ridiculous sneezing and crying eyes when spring rolls around.


3 Andrea @ { 04.05.10 at 10:52 am }

Gosh, I really am so lucky to not suffer from allergies. My mom and brother do. Thanks for the information. I just love how you mix useful information with humor and your own insight. My blog is basically me playing with food and writing in sentences that resemble the first phrases uttered by a toddler. Interesting.


4 Wren { 04.05.10 at 11:55 am }

Best explanation of allergies and their symptoms I’ve ever read, Tracey! Yes, while I am “only” allergic to every variety of grass in the world, already I have had the allergy gremlins in to visit. Ergh. Your cotton ball analogy was wonderful, but my own image is of sinuses sealed with rubber cement. Gee, I love spring.


Tracey Reply:

Wren–That’s even better than cotton balls. I agree: they definitely use rubber cement!


5 Run Sarah { 04.05.10 at 3:48 pm }

Love this post!!! I have seasonal allergies too and they are brutal – almost the end of them though, thank goodness.


Tracey Reply:

Sarah–Thanks for visiting my blog. Sorry you suffer from them too. I’m just counting down till all of this grassiness and flowerines are over. Bah Humbug.


6 Fit Chick in the City { 04.05.10 at 4:37 pm }

Strangely enough the only allergy symptom I have are shooting pains in the back of my head. Before I found out they were caused by allergies, I thought I had a serious problem.


7 Nicole, RD { 04.05.10 at 4:39 pm }

Seriously, meth labs are making it hard for me to get my DRUGS!!! As you know, I was in Vegas this week and I got sick, sick, sick. I thought it was a head cold, but after a friendly visit to my doc, i’m told it’s allergies. And that the back of my throat “looks like a cobblestone street”. Uncool. I hate allergies. I never had them up north, but between whatever spring is bringing in and ragweed in the fall, I pretty much hate allergies. :(


8 Gracie @ Girl Meets Health { 04.05.10 at 7:17 pm }

I actually have HORRIBLE allergies, and just found out! I was allergy tested as a kid and was allergic to NADA. Fast forward about 20 years, and I get chronic “sinus infections.” My labs show that I have low immunity levels, so the doctors conclude that my constant sickness is due to that. Well lo and behold, I went to an allergy doctor a couple of months ago and he found that I’m pretty much allergic to EVERYTHING. Well, all of the common ones – dust, mold, pollen, etc.

So what now? Well, thanks to daily allergy meds I feel somewhat normal again. I also am going to start getting allergy shots – once a week for NINE MONTHS (ugh). Clearly I’m a bad case. But I’m looking forward to feeling ever better than I do now because I suffered for way too long!


9 Diane Fit to the Finish { 04.05.10 at 9:52 pm }

I have a touch of allergies in the spring, but thankfully, nothing too bad. But my oldest daughter suffers with them in the fall and the spring!


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