In the world of allergies, there are a few common culprits to which many sufferers can relate. Pollen, peanuts and even egg and wheat are some that are widely known and, hence, widely understood. They're annoying for sure, but at least their victims can take solace in the fact that they are not alone in their misery.
But what of those whose allergies fall outside of the mainstream. For example, those allergic to meat?
"We've been looking into this for a couple of years, but it was really unclear how widespread it was," said Dr. Scott Commins, an allergist and immunologist at the University of Virginia. On Sunday, Commins presented the findings of his latest research on meat allergies before those gathered at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) in New Orleans.
What Commins and his colleagues found in their preliminary study of 60 patients was that some people may have an allergy to a carbohydrate naturally found within meat. He said that while allergies to certain proteins in meat has been documented before, such cases are very rare. But the idea that there is another component of meat that can spur allergies means that the pool of people within the population who have a meat allergy may be more than previously suspected.
It gets stranger. Commins said the patients with this allergy that he studied experienced a peculiar delay in symptoms.
"Initially they will experience nothing," he said. "About three to four hours in, they'll start experiencing some itching, which often proceeds to hives."
Commins said that in some patients the reaction can get even worse, progressing to breathing difficulties, acute onset diarrhea and cramping.
While more details on this allergy will only come with additional research, Commins said the preliminary results suggest that people with certain blood types -- specifically B and AB -- may be less likely to have this type of allergy than those with other blood types. He also said the research shows that those who have been bitten by ticks or certain other blood-sucking insects may be more likely to have this allergy.
"What is it about tick or chigger bites that causes the production of this antibody?" he said. "We don't think it is something infectious, as with Lyme disease and other conditions, but we are certainly keeping an open mind."
Dr. Clifford Bassett, assistant clinical professor of medicine and otolaryngology at The Long Island College Hospital, SUNY-HSCB, in Brooklyn, N.Y., who was not involved with the research, called the study "thought-provoking," particularly in patients whose allergies have no conventional explanation, a condition shelved under the description "idiopathic anaphylaxis."
"This condition, idiopathic anaphylaxis, often goes with no concrete cause for it," he said. "We should consider this [research] in evaluating this condition."
Below, we explore 11 other unusual allergies with which a few must contend -- in some cases on a daily basis.
Imagine being allergic to a substance that makes up about 70 percent of the earth and almost as much of our bodies. But for some, a rare allergy to water is harsh reality.