Did you know there is such a thing as being “allergic to water”? Apparently there is, and it is quite a bizarre condition that we’re not sure if we can wrap our head around.
One of the people with this rare condition is Tessa Hansen-Smith from California, who is literally allergic to water. The condition is called aquagenic urticaria, which affects about 100 people worldwide. Google it! It’s real.
According to Daily Mail, the 21-year-old would break out in a painful rash whenever her skin comes into contact with water, which means that she cannot cry or sweat or take showers.
The university student will also suffer migraines and develop a fever within a few minutes of touching water.
Because of this, she cannot play sports and needs to be transported around her university campus just in case she sweats while moving, which will cause an allergic reaction.
“It’s a really difficult condition to have as I’m even allergic to my own tears, saliva and sweat,” she said.
“I’m really prone to heat exhaustion and have to avoid physical activity. I even have to be shuttled around my campus at college because otherwise I show up to my class with a fever, migraine and rashes making it really difficult to concentrate.”
“I suffer with a lot of muscle fatigue and nausea too; the sickness is usually caused by me eating something with a lot of water in foods like some fruits and vegetables. Even drinking water can cause cuts on my tongue.”
At eight years old, Tessa started breaking out in a rash whenever she showered. Her parents thought she was only allergic to certain shampoos or soaps, but her condition did not become better even after taking allergy tablets.
The condition becomes worse with age, so even though the tablets worked for a while, it became less efficient the older she got. Tessa was then diagnosed with aquagenic urticaria at the age of 10.
Tessa and her mother, who is a doctor, realised it was a rare condition after researching her symptoms online. But because this condition is so rare, there is very limited data on the kinds of treatment for it.
Tessa now has to take nine antihistamine tablets a day in order to keep her symptoms under control.
“Having aquagenic urticaria can be a mental game at times – it’s hard to take so many tablets everyday knowing that it’s not actually ever going to stop,” she said.
“At one point I was taking 12 tablets a day – currently I’m taking nine.”
“I’m frequently reminded that there’s no cure to aquagenic urticaria and that I’ll never really be fully better which is definitely a difficult thing to hear sometimes.”
But despite the challenges she faces daily, Tessa is not going to let her condition completely control her life.
“I have always been very determined to be independent and leave my home town for college. I try my best to take things one day at a time because some days are better than others,” she said.
“If I’m able to see my friends and loved ones without having to leave early due to feeling sick, or make it to all my classes in one day, I see that as a win in my book.”
Currently, Tessa has set up an Instagram page called @livingwaterless to raise awareness of her condition.