Could I really be allergic to the city of Bologna?
January 13, 2012 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Could I really be allergic to the city of Bologna?

I am currently staying in Rome for a month. I went for an overnight trip to Bologna to see a friend there. I had a wonderful visit except for horrific allergies: running nose, watering eyes, sneezing, itchy ears, the whole shebang. Nothing dented it - two different allergy medicines didn't even slow it slightly. I think it was caused by dust from red brick as it really got going in a restaurant with exposed brick and the next day whenever I went into a similar place I couldn't stop sneezing. Leaving the city has made me feel a lot better, though not 100%.

Is this even a thing? Can I actually be allergic to clay of some sort? Wouldn't I get the same reaction in Rome to red brick? I've never really had allergies before like this (there's really nothing that I'm aware of being allergic to) and I'm pretty resilient normally, so this was a shocker. I've travelled in Italy before but only Rome and the south and Milan and north of Milan
posted by lesbiassparrow to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
Something similar happened to me in Calcutta. I assumed it was just air pollution. Then again I don't think Bologna is uniquely polluted compared to other Italian cities.

It's entirely possible that something in the local dust or ambient pollen is giving you an allergy flareup.

Weird question: how old are you? I never had seasonal allergies until I was in my mid twenties, and then suddenly BAM. I also became more sensitive to dyes and perfumes in cosmetics right around the same time.
posted by Sara C. at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2012

Seems possible.

Bologna has a six hundred ton plus per day waste incinerator complex with a catchment area of more than 500 square miles.

You could have reacted to the smokestack emissions, or to effluvium from waste awaiting burning, or both.
posted by jamjam at 3:49 PM on January 13, 2012

My guess is that something is currently in bloom in Bologna that pegs your allergy meter. Were there any flowers at the tables? Any shrubs or other greenery near the windows or the front door?

You mention having tried "two different allergy medicines." I don't know what they sell in Italy, but I do know that here in the States, most over the counter allergy medicines are useless. Benadryl (diphenhydramine) MAY help, but it's more likely to just make you sleepy.

The most useful allergy medicines are Claritin (loratidine) and Allegra (fexofenadine). Not sure if these are available OTC in Italy or not. Hopefully your reaction will taper off, though!
posted by ErikaB at 4:15 PM on January 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the comments, and especially interesting to hear about the incinerator. I did think about age (I'm in my late 30s) being a factor along with some form of plant, but it was its worst indoors in exposed brick buildings with no plants, and outdoors was easier (though I was still suffering), so I figured it had to be dust. It seems to have vanished more or less now I'm back in Rome (thankfully!) but I'm not heading back there without some prescription medication!
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:43 AM on January 14, 2012

I'm allergic to Holland.

The train had been in Holland for about 30 minutes, and we were right in the middle of a giant tulip field, and suddenly...bam! It didn't get any better even in Amsterdam until I acquired some allergy pills. (Almost got kicked out of a coffee shop for those pills...somebody thought they were harddrugs.)

So, yeah, I'll buy that you're allergic to Bologna.
posted by Netzapper at 8:45 AM on January 14, 2012

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