Jump to content

Question about allergies


MyOwnPrivateSFC

Recommended Posts

Ok, so, I keep reading stories--not here, but just in general--where the very mention of a known allergen can cause someone to have a reaction. At first I thought this was just poetic license, an excuse to get people to sneeze, but then I thought of how many people here (myself included!) have mentioned that talking or thinking about sneezing can cause us to do just that!

So, my question--for those of you with allergies, or who are familiar with the way allergies behave--is, I guess...is it realistic for a character to have to sneeze because he's talking about something he's allergic to (in this case, flowers)? What if he (or someone else) is specifically talking about allergies? And, if his allergy is relatively mild, is it possible/likely that he'd be more likely to have a reaction after minimal contact if he was already thinking about the allergen and/or his allergies before the contact?

To give a little bit more background: the character is allergic to flowers (well, at least some flowers), but not horribly; he can be around them without having much--if any--reaction, but if he gets too close (sniffing them, for example), he does react. I just want to know how "up close and personal" I have to get him with flowers for him to react (since I'd rather not have to work giving him a reason to be sniffing flowers into my story); whether there's anything I can do (like the power of suggestion) to either prime him so he'll have a reaction to just being around them or (even better, in several ways!) make him have a...I guess psychosomatic, sort of...reaction.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can give me any advice. I know I'm asking a lot, but I really do prefer realism in my stories; it not only helps me write more smoothly, but I don't get sidetracked with "Is that possible?" thoughts when I'm reading it later. :yuck:

Abyssinia,

Barrie

Link to comment

I don't have allergies, but my husband does. He's mentioned to me that sometimes just the smell of something (like freshly-cut grass) can cause an allergic reaction.

I don't know if that helps. :>

Link to comment

I wouldn't think saying "Ooh, a flower!" could set off even the most sensitive nose. I did once read a story where one female character gave an excruciatingly detailed description of flower pollen to another, allergic character, and they both sneezed as a result of the visualization it brought about. I don't know if I believe that can happen, but I hope it can.

Then there was one day the spring before last. The air was unbelievably sweet-smelling, but I didn't think anything of it. There was an odd visual quality to it as well, and eventually I realized that there was so much pollen in the air that you could almost see it everywhere you turned. Once this thought formed, my nose started tickling, but I didn't sneeze. Then again, my pollen allergies are very mild; if they were stronger, and all else in that situation remained constant, I can easily imagine myself sneezing that day. Then again, if I had strong allergies and the air was so thick with pollen that you could see and smell it, I'd expect to be sneezing anyway, no?

So bottom line is, my suggestion might be to have him imagine flowers and really vividly think about their pollen emissions. Even that could stretch believability for me. Or, have someone (a nice young lady, perhaps :) ) with more severe allergies than your hero's come in and start talking about how much the flowers are making her sneeze, and then an increased awareness of the pollen makes him sneeze himself. That might be your best bet.

Link to comment
I wouldn't think saying "Ooh, a flower!" could set off even the most sensitive nose. I did once read a story where one female character gave an excruciatingly detailed description of flower pollen to another, allergic character, and they both sneezed as a result of the visualization it brought about. I don't know if I believe that can happen, but I hope it can.

Then there was one day the spring before last. The air was unbelievably sweet-smelling, but I didn't think anything of it. There was an odd visual quality to it as well, and eventually I realized that there was so much pollen in the air that you could almost see it everywhere you turned. Once this thought formed, my nose started tickling, but I didn't sneeze. Then again, my pollen allergies are very mild; if they were stronger, and all else in that situation remained constant, I can easily imagine myself sneezing that day. Then again, if I had strong allergies and the air was so thick with pollen that you could see and smell it, I'd expect to be sneezing anyway, no?

So bottom line is, my suggestion might be to have him imagine flowers and really vividly think about their pollen emissions. Even that could stretch believability for me. Or, have someone (a nice young lady, perhaps ;) ) with more severe allergies than your hero's come in and start talking about how much the flowers are making her sneeze, and then an increased awareness of the pollen makes him sneeze himself. That might be your best bet.

Hmm. Certainly a lot to think about! And for the record, no, there won't be any nice young ladies per se, but if I do go with the whole "describing" thing, I could always have the character doing the describing (who for reasons of plot would be male) instead describe something a nice young lady had told him (as in "So, I just saw Anne-Maria. You know, the blonde, with the big...anyway, she's gotta cancel our date for tonight. Her allergies are killing her; she said she could practically see the pollen in the air, just floating around and landing on everything--[gets cut off by allergic person he's talking to]"). Consider it payment for helping me out here.

And Liberty Belle: thanks! That's not exactly what I was looking for, but it will definitely help, especially along with the info above. In fact, it will mesh prefectly with the stuff above; I just figured out pretty clearly what I'll likely do. :)

*is picturing her allergic character, forced to spend time in a florist while being told the above story by his completely oblivious partner* :drool:

(Which is not to say, of course, that I wouldn't love more responses: just because I know what I'm doing with one fic doesn't mean there aren't always many more to be written!)

Abyssinia,

Barrie

Link to comment

I don't have allergies, but my partner/mate does. He's EXTREMELY allergic to a variety of things, including flowers, dust, and cats just to name a few. I notice that if we start talking about his allergies, he will rub his nose and sniffle. This is the psychosomatic power of suggestion. It can happen to just about anyone regarding any type of physical ailment.

Have you ever noticed if someone talks about something gross and says it made them feel sick that you will often feel a twinge of queasiness yourself? Same thing. My partner doesn't usually sneeze from our little "discussions," but he had on occasion.

I've also noticed that talking about it seems to make him experience the symtoms more intensely than he would if we just left matters alone.

I often have my characters talk about allergens and "get sniffly" and to the point of sneezing, but it's not until they come into contact with the actual allergen that the sneezing takes place. It does seem to "prime" them, so I don't think it's too far-fetched! :sillybounce:

I hope this helped a bit!

~Aku

Link to comment

I'd also say yes, at least in some people. I actually witnessed a friend of mine at work have this kind of reaction one day when she was sitting in my office and we were chitchatting. We were talking, and I forget exactly what I said, but it was about something that she was allergic to, and doggone it if she didn't soon start sniffling and rubbing her eyes! And a moment before she had been asymptomatic.

So the power of suggestion apparently does work to cause allergic symptoms, at least in some people. Hope this helps.

Link to comment

Perfect, both of you! (Especially you, Aku: I always love the detailed way you describe things!) That was EXACTLY what I was hoping would be the case. Thank you both so much for your input; it really helps, not only the story itself, but jumpstarting my muse (who exists mainly on feedback, good music, and other people's--often innocent--comments).

*sends out virtual cookies and gets busy writing*

Abyssinia,

Barrie

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...