California Woman Suffers from Rare Condition: Allergic to Water
Tessa Hansen-Smith, a twenty-five-year-old woman from Fresno, California, is living with a rare condition known as aquagenic urticaria. This condition, which affects only 250 people in the world, causes an immune reaction when the body comes into contact with water. The reaction can range from a mild itch to more severe urticaria, including water-filled blisters and abrasions.
Tessa has been living with this allergy since she was eight years old, making it difficult for her to stay hydrated. Drinking water or consuming foods with a high water content causes a burning sensation inside her body. Showers are especially terrifying for her, as staying under the water for even just five minutes can lead to hyperventilation, large bruises, and bleeding on her scalp. Tessa has learned to manage her condition by drinking only milk and avoiding activities that make her sweat or get dirty.
Aquagenic urticaria is a complex problem that was only discovered in 1964. While there are still many unknowns about the condition, targeted therapies can help reduce symptoms and allow for a more easily managed diet. By adopting the right strategies, individuals with aquagenic urticaria can avoid recurring problems and reduce the risk of intestinal inflammation.
In order to cover the costs of her treatment, Tessa launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. She has already received generous donations, surpassing her initial goal. However, some people doubt the authenticity of Tessa’s story, prompting her to document her condition on her Instagram profile, @livingwaterless.
Despite the challenges she faces, Tessa remains hopeful for the future. She dreams of becoming a nurse and finding a sense of normality in life.
According to Monica Germani, a dietician and nutritionist, nutrition plays a crucial role in managing aquagenic urticaria. Since water is a vital nutrient, it is important for individuals with this condition to ensure proper hydration. Germani recommends cow’s milk, donkey’s milk, or goat’s milk as alternatives to water, as they contain around 80 percent water. However, it is essential to alternate between different types of milk and not exceed 500ml per day, as excessive lactose intake can cause intestinal issues. Coconut and oat-based drinks are also suitable alternatives.
Germani advises caution when consuming dried fruit-based drinks, as they can contain significant doses of nickel. In more sensitive individuals, nickel can strengthen the immune reaction and cause discomfort. Foods that contain nickel include tomatoes, dried fruit, spinach, lentils, and pineapple. It is important to monitor the amounts consumed and seek guidance from a specialist.
In non-extreme cases, Germani suggests incorporating vegetables, fruits, and their extracts into the diet. However, excessive fiber intake should be avoided, as it can strain the intestines. For lunch, she recommends vegetables rich in water but low in fiber, such as carrots, courgettes, and chard. For dinner, options like beets, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce are ideal. Lemon, gooseberry, mango, coconut, celery, carrots, cucumbers, unleavened bread, raw salads, fresh cheeses, and yogurt help maintain a constant pH and alleviate symptoms.
While it is important to follow general guidelines, it is crucial to consult a specialist for personalized advice. The Monash University fodmap application is a reliable tool in creating a suitable food plan but should not substitute expert opinion.
Tessa’s journey with aquagenic urticaria sheds light on the challenges faced by those living with rare conditions. By raising awareness and seeking proper treatment, individuals like Tessa can find hope and support in their pursuit of a normal life.