Marijuana Allergy: 8 Signs You Might Be Allergic to Weed
Many of us like to unwind with the help of marijuana. Cannabis is a multi-faceted and versatile plant. Not only can it be used recreationally to relax or to add to the fun, but medical marijuana also has the ability to treat a plethora of medical conditions, from autoimmune disease to psychological illnesses such as anxiety and even PTSD.
No matter the reason you choose to use marijuana, with the rise of dispensaries and growing social acceptance, marijuana allergies are becoming a very real and legitimate problem. In fact, severe allergic reactions can even affect non-users, as the pollen from the plant is buoyant and travels quickly, much like ragweed and other similar plants that can make an allergy sufferers life hell during the summer months.
An allergy is defined as something in the environment that most people easily tolerate but that causes a hypersensitive immune system overreaction. Allergic reactions are meant to protect the body from the perceived danger, but often symptoms of allergies are uncomfortable, painful or even dangerous for the allergy sufferer. Common allergens include foods, medicines, venom from bugs and even plants, which is where marijuana allergies fit into the picture.
Though you may think it is caused by the marijuana pollen or the marijuana smoke itself, many recent studies point to THC as the potential allergen. Allergy symptoms can be triggered by both inhalation of cannabis smoke and consumption of edible cannabis products and symptoms can vary from mild to life-threatening. Think you might be allergic to pot? Read on below to discover 8 very real signs that you might be allergic to marijuana.
1. Cold-Like Sinus Symptoms
Like with many plants and hay fever, people who are allergic to smoking marijuana may experience congestion and cold-like sinus problems. No matter how they come into contact with it, cannabis may cause a stuffy or runny nose, sensitive eyes, excess mucus, and a feeling of ears being plugged. Allergies cause the sinuses to swell, resulting in these types of ailments. These symptoms are not urgent and can usually be treated with antihistamines.
Marijuana can also trigger flu-like symptoms, such as a pressure headache, a migraine, and extreme fatigue. In addition, if you suffer from the above congestion, the swelling and the pressure can easily result in a pounding headache. Often, these symptoms go unnoticed, as the user may not make the connection between these common ailments and the consumption of marijuana.
3. Trouble Breathing or Taking a Deep Breath
A cannabis allergy may very well cause asthma-like symptoms in the user. If you are allergic but and choose to consume by smoking marijuana, you may experience trouble breathing, chest tightness, or a feeling of not being able to get a deep breath. You may even develop allergy-induced asthma from smoking pot if you are allergic. This uncomfortable chest congestion should not be taken lightly, as chest congestion can eventually progress into pneumonia or bronchitis, although you may be able to relieve some of the symptoms of marijuana smoke with a warming rub, hot showers or baths, or gargling with some salt.
4. Skin Rash or Itching
With some people who suffer from a cannabis allergy, even exposure to the plant can cause a skin rash, a whole body itch or hives. Skin irritation can occur when an allergen is consumed, touched, or even when the pollen from the plants is inhaled. Symptoms like these should never be ignored and are indicative of an immune system response to a certain substance.
For people with a cannabis allergy, the plant can sometimes cause the opposite of the desired effect. Usually, a factor in helping you fall and stay asleep, marijuana can cause sleep problems and distorted sleeping patterns in those who suffer from a cannabis allergy. While marijuana usually has a mellowing effect, an allergy sufferer may become more irritable or even aggressive (especially if they have been suffering from lack of sleep!)
A somewhat underexplored symptom of allergic reaction is pinkeye or conjunctivitis. Allergic conjunctivitis occurs when the membrane covering your eyeballs and the inside of your eyelids becomes inflamed to protect your eyes from the substance causing the reaction. Although allergic conjunctivitis will usually disappear on its own after you remove the potential allergen, you may require medicated eye drops for more stubborn cases.
7. Trigger Other Food Allergies
One of the more serious effects of exposure to cannabis, if you are allergic, is that it can trigger other allergies. Repeated exposure to the allergen, in this case, marijuana, can trigger sensitivities to other plant-based products including foods like fruit. This is likely a permanent change, which is why it is important to make every effort not to be exposed to marijuana if you notice symptoms that may indicate an allergy.
Anaphylaxis is the most serious of allergic reactions. You may remember certain classmates carrying around an epi-pen in case of such a reaction. Anaphylaxis happens fast and, if not addressed promptly, can result in death. Like all allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is your immune system’s overreaction to exposure to a substance. However, it is so extreme that often, eyes will swell shut and the tongue and throat will swell to such an extreme that the sufferer becomes unable to breathe. An extremely rare reaction to marijuana…but it has happened.
Although rare, allergic reactions to marijuana can occur and the symptoms can range from quite mild to life-threatening. If you have experienced any of the symptoms listed in 1-7, it may be a good idea to get a cannabis pollen skin prick test done at your doctor’s office as, like with any allergy, symptoms can worsen over time. If you experience or see someone experiencing anaphylaxis call 911 immediately.
Though some of these allergy symptoms are easy to treat, if you suspect you suffer from a marijuana allergy, the best policy is avoidance of cannabis and cannabis products until you have ruled out the possibility.