Friday, March 20, 2009

Conventional Allergist Care

Back to the continuation of the allergy story. :)

I am writing all this in hopes of helping others that find themselves diagnosed with multiple food allergies. In my research and experience, people diagnosed with multiple food allergies are given very little information or resources(unless they are top 8 allergens) and are left to fend for themselves. It is easy to feel alone, overwhelmed and somewhat desperate. The good news is that it doesn't have to stay that way. I have learned a lot, and as I seek health and start feeling better, I want to pass the information on to others that might benefit from it.

So, I had suspected Salicylate Sensitivity and gone on a low-sal diet for a time. I felt a little better, but not significantly so.

Finally, in the spring of last year, I went in to my family doctor and told her all my sorrows. She promptly referred me to an allergist, where my eyes were opened even further as to just how far-reaching my allergies were.

The allergist talked with me for a bit about my symptoms and what I suspected as allergens and what I was doing about it(Claritin wasn't working). I told him that I really suspected Salicylates, and he told me there was no test for that. Then he ordered skin prick testing on both arms. One arm with 74 pricks testing for pollens, molds, and epithelials(dust mites, cat and dog dander, etc) and one arm with 71 pricks testing for foods.

The two nurses did the skin pricking and left the room, telling me not to move or scratch my arms. When they returned, they were amazed at the array of reactions and told me I won the prize of the day for most/worst reactions. (I should have asked them at that point if the prize was not having to pay for the testing, lol.)

For pollens/molds/epithelials, I reacted to all trees except evergreen needled types, about 2/3 of the molds they tested for, cat dander, dog dander, dust mites and guinea pigs.

For foods, I reacted to Corn, Soy, Coconut, Peanut, Pecan, Pistachio, Hazelnut, Garlic, Mushroom, Celery, Cauliflower, Tomato and Potato. The severity of the reaction is measured on a scale of 1-4. Soy was a 2 and the rest were between a 3-4++.

I was told to take Zyrtec every day(but I questioned the wisdom in that since Zyrtec contains obvious corn, and he then said to take Claritin. Claritin also has obvious corn in it, and I later changed to a store brand with at least lesser corn.)

I was given a list of food families and told to avoid all of my food allergens AND THEIR FAMILIES (as well as the foods not on the list that I knew I reacted to already) for at least 3 weeks. After a week of having no allergic symptoms, I could add one food a week. If I reacted to that food, then I would have to go off of it and not introduce a new food until I had one full week of no allergic reactions.

Oh, and if I wanted to treat the pollen allergies, I could sign up and get the immunotherapy shots for 2-5 years. But the understanding there is that it does NOTHING for foods, other than to hope that if the pollen allergies lessen, my immune system might tolerate these foods again.

Sounds relatively simple, right? A few rules, but not too bad (Hey, I'm trying to be positive here!).

I started the diet, and then, not knowing what else to do(and not wanting my allergies to increase to the point of anaphlaxis, as my allergist suggested might happen), I signed up for the shots.

Little did I know the Challenges in store for me.

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