Could You Be Suffering From A Chlorine Allergy?
A chlorine allergy can be an allergic reaction to the chemical whether it is inhaled, ingested or from coming in contact with your skin such as at a swimming pool. Alternately, it can also take on a different meaning and refer to people that become more prone to having a reaction to the chemical because they have extended exposure to it, such as competitive swimmers. Such a reaction can include allergy rhinitis or asthma. In either case, symptoms should be monitored closely.
What Is Chlorine?
Technically speaking, chlorine is an element that is quite corrosive. It is a toxic gas in its natural state and it is strong enough to be used in weapons. In fact, Germany used chlorine gas in World War I to kill their enemies. While it is incredibly corrosive by itself, when used in some type of solution and in very small amounts, it is a powerful disinfectant.
The Chlorine Reaction
A chlorine allergy is quite rare to be born with but it is a condition that many people will develop over time. A true histamine reaction to the chemical can occur in a few different forms. For some people, a very tiny exposure is enough to develop asthma symptoms and they could be quite bothered by the condition if they are exposed to treated drinking water or swimming pools often. Many water companies sanitize water with chlorine which can cause nausea, vomiting and an upset stomach in someone that has a chlorine allergy. Also, since this water may also be used for showering, allergic dermatitis can become present as well.
A lot of people may not be bothered by chlorine ingestion but after swimming, hay fever or asthma symptoms develop. This suggests that their chlorine allergy is due to overexposure. National Institutes of Health have reported that swimming in pools with chlorine can cause individuals to develop asthma at any age that may have never had symptoms before.
If a chlorine allergy is suspected, doctors typically treat it the same way as other types of allergies. Antihistamines are usually the first choice of treatment because they stop the histamine reaction. These are helpful for treating both rhinitis and skin allergy symptoms.
Depending on the severity of the allergy and how well the antihistamine works, it may not be necessary to even avoid the chlorine in the future. For individuals that develop asthma from being exposed to chlorine, doctors will typically provide inhalers. With a combination of asthma inhalers and antihistamines, many people can continue to be exposed to this chemical. However, when possible, it is wiser to eliminate the chemical that is causing damage to your body rather than rely on medication to continue to expose yourself to it.
For some people with a chlorine allergy, it is advised to completely stay away from the chemical, even with treatment. This is especially common if it is an ingestion type of reaction. For these individuals, bottled water is the recommended alternative and special purifying filters may be placed on faucets to remove chlorine out of water that is used for bathing purposes.
While this type of allergy is rare, it can be serious. It is important if you are exposed to chlorine and you are experiencing any symptoms, that you see your doctor to be tested and discuss your options. These allergies are bringing awareness to the fact that chlorine is not necessarily the ideal way to clean pools and other options such as alternative salts should be explored. It is believed that many children are developing asthma because of swimming in public swimming pools as well as their own pools at home.