I make no apologies for being allergic to stupidity (even, or perhaps especially, my own). My tolerance levels only decrease as I get older.
That’s not the kind of allergy I want to talk about today, though.
See, it’s oak pollen season in PA and while everything is really lovely with the flowering trees flowering, and wildflowers doing their thing along with the cultivated sorts, and all the other good things that come with spring in this part of the world, it’s also time for the annual plague of gray-ish yellow powder that ages to brown and coats absolutely everything no matter what you do.
And the rather significant fraction of that powder that in this part of the world comes from oak trees just happens to be something that gives me nasty allergy issues. Not anaphylactic shock level allergy issues, thankfully, but the kind of hay fevery ones that make for a miserable two months or so.
First we have the daily dosage of Zyrtec (which is the only non-drowsy antihistamine that doesn’t make me dizzy and woozy), which on bad days can become a twice a day thing. Then there’s the nose spray so I can actually breathe properly and which helps to reduce the problems of too much pollen getting into my lungs and making it harder to breathe. Finally we have the as-needed eye drops to handle the way my eyes constantly itch.
When I first moved here over 10 years ago I needed a steroid shot, prescription nose spray and prescription eye drops as well as the Zyrtec and OTC stuff, so I have habituated some. I’ll likely never fully habituate, though, since 10 years hasn’t brought the unpleasantness down all that much. That’s the drawback of increased population mobility. You don’t grow up with certain things, so your body never programs in that they’re supposed to be mild irritants, not deadly dangers to attack with all available resources.
I can see that being a big issue in science fiction if done right. The kid raised in a space station on their first visit to an actual planet in spring practically keels over because there’s too much pollen in the air and the kid can’t cope with it. Or generational spacers spending all their lives on massive spaceships and absolutely hating having to go planet-side because it’s just not hygienic with all that plant sex going on uncontrolled… Oh dear. The kind of spacer cult of hygiene that could cause…
Right. Yes, allergies can be useful, but I’ve not seen them used well outside short stories. In novels, they’d probably work best as something a character lives with and works around – but they could certainly be used as an extra peril option if an enemy found out that Hero’s Love Interest is deathly allergic to a thing.