In this article, we’re going to be looking at the signs and symptoms of a cannabis allergy.
Using cannabis can cause many issues for a person in life. For example, if a person is found guilty of a conspiracy to supply cannabis, they can face a heavy fine or even a prison sentence. Using cannabis can also have a considerable impact on a person’s health, in some cases a person may not realise they have an allergy to it, which can cause much more serious health issues.
The use of cannabis in the UK is illegal so some may be scared to seek medical attention. However, if you have a bad reaction to anything, including an illegal substance, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
In this article, we’re sharing the signs and symptoms of a cannabis allergy and the action that should be taken.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a derivative of the cannabis plant and is commonly used as a recreational drug by smoking or eating the plant in order to achieve a ‘high’. Cannabis is also used to create CBD oils and products which have medicinal properties but does not contain THC (the substance that produces the high).
The use and supply of cannabis is illegal in the UK and can result in a fine, a prison sentence and possibly a driving ban if a person is found to be under the influence of cannabis while in control of a vehicle.
While many people consider cannabis to be a ‘harmless’ drug, others feel that it can lead to long term health issues, including mental health problems. If a person has an allergic reaction from cannabis, the effects can be very serious.
The pollination of cannabis plants can create airborne particles which may cause ‘marijuana sensitisation’ or an allergic reaction. Such reactions can vary depending on the type of contact with the plant and the length of exposure to it. Some signs and symptoms are as follows:
A person who is allergic and touches a cannabis plant may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Rashes – A concentrated grouping of small spots or blisters which may cause pain or itching.
- Hives – Hives (or Urticaria) are similar to a rash but are extremely itchy and will generally cover a larger area – for example, in many cases, hives can cover the entire hand if left untreated.
- Swelling – Contact with cannabis may cause the swelling to the affected area.
When a person inhales cannabis, either deliberately or inadvertently, this can cause number of symptoms if allergic, including:
- Nasal symptoms – Some nasal symptoms may include excessive sneezing, a runny nose or itchy nose. In some cases, a person may also suffer mild nosebleeds.
- Ocular symptoms – Itchy, swollen or watering eyes are extremely common symptoms of an allergic reaction to cannabis.
- Breathing issues – A shortness of breath can often indicate a cannabis allergy.
- Anaphylaxis – This potentially life threatening condition can develop extremely rapidly and, in addition to one or more of the symptoms above, may include vomiting and diarrhea, a swollen tongue, the closing of the throat and a loss of consciousness.
If you or another person experience an allergic reaction to cannabis, the action to be taken depends on the severity of the reaction as follows:
- Mild symptoms – If the symptoms are mild; for example, a rash, a runny nose or itchy eyes, you will not usually need to take any action other than removing the cannabis and / or refraining from further consumption. If symptoms are particularly uncomfortable, an over the counter allergy medicine may help. Once the source of the allergy has been removed, symptoms will usually be alleviated within 24 – 48 hours.
- Moderate symptoms – With symptoms such as a shortness of breath or hives, the person may need to contact their GP or pharmacist in order to gain medication such as antihistamines or antibiotics. Once a course of medication has begun, symptoms will usually ease within a few days.
- Severe symptoms – When symptoms are severe, for example anaphylaxis or acute breathing difficulties, the person should seek medical assistance immediately – in the case of anaphylaxis, an ambulance should be called straight away. Treatment for anaphylaxis may require a hospital stay and will include a course of adrenaline to reduce the allergic response, intravenous antihistamines and cortisone and, in some cases, a beta-agonist to help ease breathing.
While they can be unpleasant, most allergic reactions to cannabis are thankfully fairly mild and should dissipate quite quickly once use or contact with the drug has been removed. If, however, symptoms are more serious or are persistent, it’s important that you seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
In some cases, people may be reluctant to visit A&E after an allergic reaction to cannabis out of fear that staff may contact the police but, don’t worry – although cannabis use is illegal, hospital staff will not contact the authorities without your permission.
As well as the mild to severe effects of an allergic reaction, the use of cannabis can impair your judgement, leading to accidents. If the use of cannabis is prolonged, the user may suffer some long-term health effects including respiratory problems and mental health issues. Should you feel that you need help with an addiction to cannabis, your GP should be able to point you in the direction of some local resources.
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