It's Just Allergies, Right?
Last updated: May 2023
Seasonal allergies, the annoying across the hall neighbor of chronic illness.
They always come over uninvited, eat our food, and try to suck us into their hairbrained schemes. So, I guess in this case allergies are Cosmo Kramer. A lot of the clothes he wears makes me itch, so I will stick with this analogy.
Allergies present like a chronic illness, but aren’t exactly the same (At least in my experience). My allergies follow a set schedule and affect me the most at these following times: The week of my birthday, the off week before the Super Bowl, and sometime near the end of March Madness. Like clockwork.
And yet, somehow even though I know when they are going to strike, when they come around, my first thought always seems to be: “Is this a virus, a flare, or is it just allergies?”
Outside of being either deadly or truly annoying, allergies are a total distraction to the immune system. For our average person, their immune system might kick into high gear to fight the allergy and, in bad situations, allow for other illnesses to get a foothold.
For us and our immune systems, which do not need a good reason to jump into action, what allergies do is cause extra pain and make us think that our treatments aren’t working.
“Why am I in so much pain today?!”
Oh right, allergies! As if red eyes and runny noses aren’t bad enough, we have the added effect of pain and stiffness. A symptom they don’t mention on the allergy medication TV ads.
Not many people probably miss work or take extra pain meds when the pollen count goes up, but I do. Allergies are an extra pain we simply do not need.
Am I sick?
(Well, more sick than usual.)
Right now, as I am writing this, I either contracted Covid again, am dying, or my Super Bowl allergies never went away. My voice goes and I have fits of coughing. But other than that, I feel great!
Well, my back hurts and my joints are swelling, obviously.
But, no fever! So...that’s good...Right?
I feel like I am fighting on several fronts, but I have no idea who the enemy is. Am I actually sick? Or is it “just” allergies?
And I suppose there is a 3rd option: maybe this is just how life is gonna be from here on out. Possibly my Spondylitis has developed a new chest congestion symptom.
Who can really say? All I know is my doctor says I should be tip top!
Well, as long as she says so.
Allergic to life
This is how I’m sure a lot of people feel.
If it isn't allergies to nature or exposures, could it be the “Lays Potato Chip” rule of chronic illness that we can never have just one?
I have always said because I am so used to things being wrong with me, it might take me much longer to notice something new. In my early 20s I was so used to my legs and feet hurting that I didn’t notice my ankle was broken. When I broke it I am unable to say, but I know it was long enough ago that it had already healed and broke again. And I had no idea.
Spondy patients get used to living in pain, exhaustion, and just feeling craptacular. How bad does something have to be before we notice it? If we ever notice it.
Allergies can imitate symptoms old and new. They make us feel sick enough that we go looking for another condition, but then we stop looking because it’s usually allergies.
Or is it?
Do you notice worsening flares in colder weather?