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Weird new allergies and non-allergic asthma

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador

Anyone else have this issue? I have severe non-allergic, non-eosinophilic asthma, but also have hayfever - which is a bit weird but I have read up on it and it's possible; seems to be mainly trees.

I have triggers including floral scents such as lavender, rose, violet etc but they just trigger asthma (ie no hives, itching, swelling etc) and I wouldn't say they are food allergies as such - they will set me off if I smell them from a distance so if I consume them (and it doesn't take much) they're also an issue. First time it was eating chocolates which caused much coughing; now I can get a mini-attack with the tiniest hint of eg rose in a drink.

I now seem to be getting extra random allergies from the odd food as well: 2 years ago it was mango which is exclusively asthma, but moved on rapidly from 'coughing fit after drinking a glass of pure mango juice' to 'full on mini asthma attack with peak flow drop (unusual for me) taking time and a lot of ventolin to sort, after a tiny lick of yoghurt' the next time. I don't like or eat mango that much so it was a while in between.

Now i seem to have a celery allergy (not 100% sure but seems the most likely culprit: yesterday rash on hands, today major itching). Don't think this one affects asthma but I don't really want to experiment further given I seem to have had a more intense, if non-serious, reaction the second time (I know this increased reaction can happen with allergies).

Anyone else?! I had always thought all my triggers were non-allergic and that I generally didn't have allergies; this is very confusing tbh.

29 Replies

Yeah I have things like that happen. My last one was I ate a caramel bar (I’ve eaten for years) my eyes bubbled (strangest thing I have ever seen) and my chest hurt.

Best thing, go to the doctors and speak to your gp. Mine has put it down to an allergy disorder as I do have some diagnosed allergies. His advice was just to avoid food/shampoos etc that trigger it.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to KnPoa

That's an odd reaction but bodies can be weird!

I can ask my GP but they tend to be a little wary about me with anything vaguely related to asthma due to being weird. I can start with them perhaps. I know to avoid things I react to, but I'm not entirely sure if I'm right about what it is.

I'm also puzzled because my asthma isn't allergic so the hayfever and these reactions seem odd to me. I wonder if my GP would just say well you have asthma it goes with allergies - except mine doesn't, or shouldn't!

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to KnPoa

Bubbly eyes? Or blisters on the white of your eyes? I can get that with cats! It also itches intensely. And I look a mess!

KnPoa profile image
KnPoa in reply to Wheezycat

I suppose it could have been a blister (I couldn’t think of the word but bubbly as that’s literally what it looked like) . Ive never had it as bad since then, just minor blisters/bubbles.

Crazy what the body does.

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to KnPoa

The first time I had it I was in my late teens/early twenties (I am now in my seventies), and I was on my own in friend’s house in London. I got quite panicky, thinking I needed urgent help, but managed to talk myself down from that. Somehow I quickly learned it was the house cat that caused it. Since then we had our own trio of cats for years, and it happened from time to time. Always madly itchy. Only once when it looked as if my eye was nearly falling out of my socket did I seek help. The GP was quite impressed! I did get drops, but hardly used them, as I only seemed to use it once or twice before it had passed it used by date. Washing my face with cold water did seem to help to calm it. Thankfully it hasn’t happened for a few years as we no longer have cats.

Peanuts trigger asthma symptoms for me even though i have no allergy to peanuts, i also get extremely itchy but no rash after eating them. Sometimes our bodies are just so weird! Might be worth getting skin prick test done, even if you have had one before things may have changed?

All though i know how similar your symptoms are to mine so could just be one of those weird odd things!

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Melanie1989

Yes I was thinking that about the skin prick tests as it was a while ago. I do want to have a proper chat with someone on this but it's difficult to know who as I feel it will be minimised/dismissed and it's all so weird!

My GP may just say well you have asthma so you have allergies...I am a bit weird for them in general for anything related to asthma. I need to check if they're doing routine appts for this kind of thing.

The joys of being a unicorn 🦄🦄

I completely understand your worry as you know how i am with professionals, however you could just suggest the idea of a test even if its to rule it out. Obviously even if normal and you still get symptoms avoid the triggers, but sometimes its just nice to have validation and something tangible.

Sympathies with the curse of the unicorn, normal would be so much easier!

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Melanie1989

Yes I know what you mean - it's good to have something concrete for myself too! Though it had better not say 'you're allergic to chocolate' 😱😱

Some of your triggers are same as mine.

Look at for foods that can affect me, as well as perfumes etc.

I can’t use Ventolin either....I notice you say it takes a lot to take effect. GP decided it was making me worse, so changed to Bricanyl....much better.

We’re all different, but just thought I’d say. Some call it aspirin sensitive asthma, because that is pure salicylic acid.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Yatzy

Thanks - I'm fine with Ventolin normally, it's pretty effective for me but takes more if I'm struggling (gets there eventually but sometimes takes a neb to fix it. I'm glad to have the neb as it gets in better and helps more with scent attacks).

Glad you found a reliever that works better! I was on Bricanyl as a child but that was more because I was bad at using it so they switched me to a dry powder format (I presume Ventolin didn't come in that format at the time).

I will look up but would be surprised if salicylates are the issue since aspirin and other NSAIDs aren't a problem for me. I'm still trying to work out the relationships between the floral triggers though so would be interesting to see how things are linked.

With perfumes I suspect there's some kind of base ingredient they use in the cheaper ones as I never react to the top end ones (eg Chanel etc) unless they have the wrong florals - so Acqua Di Parma is a definite no, but despite being practically assaulted by someone trying to sell me Chanel No 5 I wasn't affected (good job too, he wouldn't leave me alone and I would have been on the floor if I had been reacting).

Yatzy profile image
Yatzy in reply to Lysistrata

Ok. Sounds like something different then. Best of luck sorting it out, took me years of guesswork and research, elimination diets and a sympathetic GP.

I get things like that on my hands mainly from time to time. It sounds perhaps like a version of urticaria. I used to get that if I gripped something hard. Severe itching and puffiness on my palms. That has gone. But now I get a rash round my knees after a shower. It seems to be the heat. But once when I was poorly with some cold and asthma, that rash spread extensively from my waist down to below my knees. Thankfully being urticaria it goes fairly quickly. I also used to get urticaria if I got tiny nicks from something on my hands. The first thing I knew was that I was itching like bellyoh, and got weals in that area. Only the day after could I see the tiny nick that caused it. It never affects my asthma. If the itching is really bad I use antihistamine cream which helps a lot.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Wheezycat

This is on the back of my hands - still there though the other itching has calmed a bit since I took some extra antihistamines.

I tried stopping my fexofenadine in the winter but got randomly itchy hands and feet so restarted and it went away.

I think I would like a new body or at least an instruction manual... ;)

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to Lysistrata

It is all weird! And as you have said many times there are lots of versions of asthma! Didn’t you once suggest it was an umbrella term? So having some version of allergic reaction with what seems (in my case) non allergic asthma, well, that is just another version. I can say with certainty that I have a body that overreacts on silly things!

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Wheezycat

It is! I feel the medical profession hasn't quite caught up though - my consultant is still sceptical of the hayfever because 'you don't have allergic asthma'. I am surprised by how it seems to compartmentalise things - don't react to lungs with pollen, but do react to them with mango, rose, lavender et al.

My immune system is controlled by an evil genius with a personality disorder and possibly a grudge.

Wheezycat profile image
Wheezycat in reply to Lysistrata

And having a laugh at your expense! It reminds me of the baddies in Simpson’s!

It makes sense to me. People can have severe allergies and have bad reactions to things but they're not asthmatic. All their symptoms do not affect the lungs, but can, say, affect the throat, eyes, moth, lips, skin. So surely an asthmatic can have the same type of allergic reactions without it affecting their asthma.

I can't eat celery as it makes me very ill but it doesn't affect my asthma or breathing.

But there are foods that irritate my asthma, mainly in the salicylate group as I'm sensitive to aspirin. If I take aspirin I look like I've done 10 rounds with a boxer.

A colleague of mine who really struggled with her asthma was sent to London, may have been Brompton Hospital, to have allergy testing. She was then able to avoid very specific foods, right down to the type of apple. She stuck to her list of OK foods and we were amazed how her asthma improved.

It may be worth exploring if you can get such allergy testing.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Poobah

I have had allergy testing in the past (both blood and skin prick) but it was all negative, even to things I suspected were an issue like common tree pollens. I might try again but was once told by an allergy consultant who happened to be the cons on call in hospital that negative tests are a pain - they don't actually tell you that someone is negative for real!

Those were a while ago, wonder if would be different now?

Poobah profile image
Poobah in reply to Lysistrata

I've asked my respiratory team and they said that they had screened me for allergies using "the usual blood test" but hadn't explained that at the time or what the results were. I suggested I was happy to go private but they were dismissive of looking specifically at allergies as I was already being treated generally for them (Montelukast and antihistamines).

It was a chance chat with a consultant 35 years ago that I discovered that my bad reaction to aspirin was an indication that I was allergic to my inhalers. They changed me to dry powder inhalers and things improved immensely. However, I did ask why they didn't screen asthmatics automatically for aspirin sensitivity and the consultant explained that they didn't think it was worth it.

I went back to work and told a couple of colleagues who had asthma and one, who had terrible symptoms changed over to dry powder inhalers and his life changed in days. He went from being unable to walk 20 metres to riding a bike everywhere.

Over the years, the respiratory team have worked on different projects and research but none have been specifically about allergies. So I've never been able to get a referral to a specialist allergy clinic. I'm assuming that there are true specialists (few & far between) and general testing, with the latter not being specific enough for screening our modern diet and its huge range of choices.

I had allergy testing came back all clear they expected me to ‘light up like a Christmas tree’ during Pin prick testing but nothing! I do suffer from hayfever symptoms and they reckon the allergy is localised to my nose but no way of telling without a biopsy which they don’t do because treatment for localised allergies and non-allergic symptoms are the same :-)

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to LozzieC

Yes same - no reaction even to things I suspect I react to! Less of an issue with trees which I can't avoid but would be handy to know if there are foods I should avoid.

No allergy tests are fool proof, but RAST blood tests are fairly reliable and subcutaneous injections better than patch testing.

If you find you are better when excluding the potential allergen then that is a good way for you to decide.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to strongmouse

I had the blood tests too! But may be time to revisit with apparent new allergens.

About 18 months ago got told I have Timothy grass allergy. Did a little bit of research and the protein in the timothy grass is cross reactive with certain foods. Cant remember all but celery and peanuts where there along with other foods.

I actually love celery and peanuts but cant eat them without issues arising now,have been tested for these allergies and nothing showed again more down to the cross reactive protein

Hope you get a answer

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to Statch

Thanks! Someone mentioned celery being linked to birch - I think I'm allergic to birch pollen but nothing showed up. They all just like to hide...

The specialist I see keeps saying blood tests are inconclusive because you get so many false negatives and positives. Because it does not show up does not necessarily mean you are not allergic to something you know your body and symptoms better.

The only reason she is persevering with blood tests is because lowest ige I have had is 700 most of the time 2500+ so something I have allergy to is in there finding it is gonna take some effort lol

Unfortunately it is possible to develop allergies at any stage in life. I would suggest avoiding anything which gives you problems for a week. If you don't have a severe reaction you can then try a small amount and see if your react. (Some reactions can be delayed). A good idea to have an antihistamine to hand too. Normally I would say go to the GP and ask for a referreal for allergy testing as this can confirm your findings, but it isn't always available on the NHS.

I used to drink rose tea and then started feeling unwell afterwards so stopped. Now the smell of roses makes me feel ill and if I prick myself it swells up unless I take an antihistamine. I now have multiple allergies to food and inhalants. Didn't when I was a child they have just developed over the years.

My son who has started developing allergies is trying some immune shots privately and so far has done well with the dust mite one. I may be following in his footsteps when we are all back to normal!

A good book on Allergies is "The Allergy Bible" and Allergy UK has some good basic information.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to strongmouse

Thanks! Rose is a bad one for me too - gives me asthma. Even in miniscule amounts (hidden in a cocktail dammit, it was part of one ingredient and I had a couple of sips). Usually they just set off my asthma - the celery is weird in causing itching. I developed hayfever at 27 which surprised me at the time (unsure if it was a coincidence that was the year I had my first admissions for asthma...).

Will have a look at those sources, thanks!

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