During her second pregnancy, Meagan Lynne noticed something was off: Her allergy symptoms suddenly became a huge issue.
"I felt like I had a constant cold, and nasal drip that was making it very hard to sleep," Lynne tells Yahoo Life. "With my most recent pregnancy, the early spring allergies got so bad, I had to take my asthma pump to breath better."
Lynne, who says that she's "typically only allergic to dogs," suddenly developed "bad allergies and sinus problems" when she was around trees and pollen. This happened during her pregnancy in 2015, and when she was pregnant again in 2020. While Lynne grappled with that, she also discovered something odd: She was suddenly "very allergic" to her cat. Lynne says that spending time around her cat would leave her with hives and sneezing fits.
While Lynne was uncomfortable, she found a few things that helped: she had her cat sleep in another room and vacuumed more frequently. And, after having her baby, Lynne isn't dealing with extreme allergy issues anymore—including to her cat. "Now that I am no longer pregnant, I am not allergic to him at all," she says.
It seems weird, but pregnancy can make your allergies worse, Dr. Monica Lawerence, an allergist-immunologist at UVA Health, tells Yahoo Life. It's not entirely clear why, but Lawrence says that it might be, "due to swelling of the blood vessels in the nose, as well as possibly to hormones."
Lynne is hardly the first person to struggle with weird allergies, though—there are plenty out there. These are some of the stranger ones, per Lawrence.
Weird allergy #1: Cockroaches
Even if you don't see cockroaches in your home, it's possible that they're living behind your walls undetected. "People can be allergic to the saliva and feces of cockroaches, as well as to body parts that they shed," Lawrence says. You can undergo allergy testing to see if you're allergic to cockroaches—it's a simple skin prick or blood test. If you test positive and you're having symptoms at home, Lawrence recommends working with a pest management company to eliminate them from your home, along with taking allergy medication or shots.
Weird allergy #2: Ladybugs
Asian ladybugs are becoming a more common cause of indoor infestations, especially in the Southeastern United States. "You can become allergic to ladybug 'blood' that is released when agitated, or to ladybug bites," Lawrence says. If skin testing determines you have an allergy, Lawrence recommends vacuuming up any ladybugs you may see in your house instead of sweeping them up or stepping on them. "This is less likely to release an irritating odor," she says. Just be sure to empty the vacuum canister regularly.
Weird allergy #3: Black Mold
“Black mold” is actually a term for several species of mold that look dark green or black. "Black molds have gotten a lot of bad press but have not been shown in scientific studies to be harmful to your overall health," Lawrence says. "However, patients who are allergic to mold can have nasal congestion or cough with mold exposure." Again, you can get tested for a mold allergy, but Lawrence says it's a good idea to do your best to keep mold at bay in your home regardless. "Molds thrive in warm, moist environments," she says. "Treatment for mold includes reducing humidity, increasing ventilation, and scrubbing visible mold with bleach.”
Weird allergy #4: Marijuana
Yup, this is a thing. People can have marijuana allergy symptoms from inhaling, smoking, touching or eating marijuana or cannabis, Lawrence says. Symptoms include runny nose, itchy watery red eyes, sneezing, and asthma. "There is no standardized skin testing available for marijuana, so the
diagnosis primarily is made by an allergist taking a careful history," Lawrence says. The treatment for this, she says, usually includes avoiding marijuana.
Weird allergy #5: Thunderstorms
This is a rare phenomenon, but it happens. It happens when grass pollen particles are broken down into smaller sizes, concentrated and then dispersed in air being pushed out by a thunderstorm, Lawrence says. "In people who are allergic to grass, this can lead to an asthma attack—even people who have never been diagnosed with asthma before," Lawrence points out. "It can also lead to worsening allergy symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, and itchy [and] watery eyes." If you have a grass pollen allergy, she recommends checking the weather forecast regularly. "The best way to avoid this is for people with known grass allergy to not be outdoors during a thunderstorm in the pollen season," Lawrence says.
Weird allergy #6: Stress
While you're probably not allergic to stress itself, Lawrence says the emotion can make your spring allergies and asthma worse and decrease your body's ability to handle allergy symptoms. Stress triggers the release of certain hormones, "that skew the immune system towards the production of allergy-promoting inflammatory chemicals and cells," Lawrence explains. She recommends keeping a diary of your allergy symptoms and your stress levels to see if your worst allergy days are also the days your stress levels are highest. "Reducing symptoms worsened by stress are unsurprisingly focused on helping reduce your stress levels, for example with yoga, meditation, mental imagery, biofeedback or psychotherapy," Lawrence says.