You’ve heard of the most common food allergies – those to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, and other common allergens. But did you know that it’s possible to have an allergy to nearly everything? Allergists say that there is no limit to the number of potential allergens in our environment.

At this week’s annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), allergens discussed some of the bizarre allergies they’ve come across. Dr. John Oppenheimer of the ACAAI, noted that “What might be wacky today might be an epidemic tomorrow,” pointing to the need for studying allergies that are currently considered rare.

Panelists at the meeting discussed a wide range of unusual allergies, starting with the case of a man who was allergic to his own semen. Another unusual allergy developed in a 25-year-old woman, who developed skin hives after consuming alcoholic beverages of any kind. The researchers also explained the case of ‘pork-cat syndrome,’ an odd co-allergy in which similar proteins in both pet cats and pork meat causes an allergic reaction.

Although peanut allergies are among the most common food allergies, the way they present can sometimes be unusual. Researchers at the University of Michigan reported the case of an infant who experienced a reaction after being exposed to them only through his mother’s breastmilk. The 7-month-old would only exhibit symptoms after his mother had consumed peanut products recently. When the mother stopped eating peanuts, the baby’s symptoms improved.

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