Watery eyes, itching, sneezing, swelling, and shortness of breath are some of the symptoms faced by people who have an intolerance to marijuana. However, little is known about the cause of this sensitivity. On this occasion, we present a brief compilation of everything you need to know about a cannabis allergy.
Like other plants, fruits and pollens, cannabis triggers some intolerance in various people with mild or severe symptoms, regardless of whether the user smokes recreational or medical cannabis.
Research from the National Institute of Health in the United States (NIH) found that case reports in the medical literature have described episodes of allergic reactions, hypersensitivity, and shortness of breath in users of cannabis sativa in its various forms.
Cannabis pollen inhalation discomfort causes allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and asthma . Exposure to pollen or cannabis smoke causes nasal congestion, rhinitis, sneezing, pharyngeal itching, cough, wheezing, and dyspnea. Meanwhile, skin contact has been associated with urticaria and generalized itching.
Exposure to industrial hemp dust has been linked to byssinosis , an occupational obstructive pulmonary disease (primary respiratory tract) associated with exposure to organic textile dust in work settings.
According to data from the North American Academy of Allergists, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) , more than 50 million Americans suffer from a cannabis allergy.
Other symptoms that people with a cannabis allergy present are:
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Dry, red, or inflamed skin
Some medical research even suggests that some consumers have suffered anaphylaxis , that is, difficulty breathing due to the closing of the throat. This condition occurs within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen and endangers the life of the patient.
Also, it should be noted that most people with cannabis allergy symptoms have a mild to a moderate reaction that is similar to that caused by seasonal allergies.
The type of allergic reaction user experiences will depend on factors such as the amount of cannabis they ingested, their history of other allergies, and even how close they are to growing the plant.
Who is more prone to allergies
An investigation by doctors at the Marina Baixa Hospital, in Alicante, Spain, revealed that young men have a propensity to develop an allergy to cannabis.
According to the analysis, male users are more likely to suffer respiratory conditions from being in contact with cannabis. Respiratory involvement is due to inflammation of the mucosa.
It is worth mentioning that, in the cases of users with serious conditions such as anaphylaxis, it is important to stay away from cannabis, even if its use is medicinal. Also, it is recommended to take medical treatment to react quickly to accidental exposure of the plant.
However, it should also be noted that there is no standard way to assess cannabis allergy. There is also no treatment available to alleviate symptoms, so regular treatments are carried out with antihistamines to control symptoms and to reduce discomfort.
How to diagnose cannabis allergy
According to AAAAI, so far, skin tests are the most effective in providing signs of an allergy, although they are not foolproof.
In the laboratory, sensitivity to marijuana can also be detected with specific immunoglobulin (IgE) tests, which assess cannabis or some of its proteins considered allergenic. These tests are not accurate either.
Wearing protective layers can help prevent an allergic reaction when handling marijuana, although avoiding exposure to the plant is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction in proven cases.
Finally, it must be made clear that allergy to cannabis, like other types of sensitivity, should be reviewed with a specialist, who will determine the degree and if it is necessary to eliminate consumption permanently or, failing that, if it is possible to carry a treatment to deal with discomfort, especially in the case of medicinal users.