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Is this a food allergy?

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Old 09-25-2007, 05:48 PM   #1
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Shannatoo HB User
Is this a food allergy?

I wasn't sure where to post this so if this board isn't the right spot, I'm sorry!

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with a type II gluten allergy. I stopped eating it and all of my symptoms disappeared.

However, within the past year or so, my symptoms have returned seemingly overnight and I'm back to being in pain daily. I get sinus pressure and congestion, headaches, and neck and shoulder tension/pain as well as ear pain and pressure. These are the EXACT same symptoms I have when I eat gluten (which I know I am not doing because I'm VERY careful!).

I saw my doctor last week and she suggested I get a HEPA air purifier for my dorm (which I did the next day), and also gave me a natural antihistamine (quercetin) to take daily. For some reason, she doesn't seem to consider this being another food allergy (however, this is a different doc than the one that diagnosed me because I moved across the country!).

I decided to start a food diary and write down EVERYTHING I put in my body for the next month until I see the doctor again as well as any type of ailment and the time it first occurs. However, I still have another month to wait, and nothing relieves my pain.

So I guess I'm wondering if anyone has had similiar reactions and if it was indeed a food allergy (and what food was it)? Also, if anyone knows of anything to bring relief to this pain, I would greatly appreciate it!

Just a note: I am very conscious of the amount of dairy I eat, knowing that it creates mucus/congestion. Also, I eat a typically health whole-foods diet with as little "junk" as possible. ie: fruits, vegetables, chicken, soymilk, legumes, careful on the sugar intake and I consume little if any caffeine.

Thank you!


Last edited by Shannatoo; 09-25-2007 at 05:49 PM.

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Old 09-25-2007, 05:59 PM   #2
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Re: Is this a food allergy?

You said you moved. How long after you moved did you start experiencing your symptoms?

Old 09-25-2007, 09:13 PM   #3
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Re: Is this a food allergy?

About six months, and I figured if anything, the move would improve my allergies because I moved to a dryer climate (from CT to CA). Also, if this was an environmental allergy, wouldn't the antihistamine I'm taking work, or could is possibly not be enough or the right supplement?

Last edited by Shannatoo; 09-25-2007 at 09:37 PM.

Old 09-26-2007, 05:15 AM   #4
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Re: Is this a food allergy?

It could just not be the right one for whatever you are allergic to. Changing climates like that can drive allergies crazy. Just because it is drier doesn't mean it's better for you. There is obviously something there you are allergic to that you didn't have in CT.

Old 09-28-2007, 04:08 PM   #5
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milkmasher HB User
Re: Is this a food allergy?

Hi Shanna. If this is occurring daily, I think it's highly unlikely it's a food allergy. "Classic" allergy (type 1 hypersensitivity) is self-limiting, and it's my understanding that even type 2 hypersensitivity generally will resolve or at least improve markedly fairly quickly once you're no longer exposed to the allergen. Unless you eat the same food every day, then, food allergy seems improbable here. Even then, I wouldn't think food allergy is the culprit.

In the unlikely event that this is a food allergy, a food diary is certainly helpful for a lot of people, but I have the feeling its usefulness will be limited if indeed you experience the symptoms daily. If you always have the symptoms you're going to have a really hard time finding a connection to a certain food. I might add here that a couple weeks ago at WEGO Health we discussed the rise in food allergies, and I've found in my research since then that many studies indicate that food allergy and intolerances are misdiagnosed and overstated on a tremendous scale, so it's very important to look into other possibilities, as well.

It's possible that it's some environmental allergen, such as allergic rhinitis or mold (though the fact that you're in a drier climate makes the latter less likely). Unless you're reacting to something in your house or workplace, though, I would generally expect this, too, to be more fleeting or seasonal, rather than constant and daily. I notice you said you began experiencing the symptoms about 6 months after your move. You didn't happen to get a new job or move into a different house around that time, did you?

The symptoms you're describing sound to me a lot like sinusitis, either from allergens or an infection (in which case you need antibiotics, not an antihistamine). While it's certainly not unheard of for sinusitis to be long-lasting, I think it's usually self-limiting, too. I'd recommend asking your doctor to check our your sinuses, particularly to see if you have a deviated septum. This would most likely warrant a CT scan.

In the meantime, one thing I'd suggest is to try another antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Claritin. I do believe that quercetin has been found to effective, but it's not right for everybody. Additionally, I may be a little biased toward allopathic medicine, but to be honest, I'm a little wary of your doctor recommending quercetin, and even more wary because of the recommendation to combine that with the HEPA purifier.

First, some doctors do recommend HEPA air cleaners for allergies, and while HEPA cleaners are reportedly the best type of air purifier, their effectiveness in reducing allergy symptoms is unproven and questionable. This is especially true if the air cleaner is used alone -- the recommendation is usually to reduce exposure to allergens by thorough cleaning and other measures, and HEPA air cleaners should be used as part of a full program of reducing exposure, not just by themselves.

Second, recommending a purifier without knowing the cause of the symptoms seems like a shot in the dark. If it works, great, but I think it's awfully important to identify the cause of the problem. What's more, if the problem isn't related to an airborne allergen in your house, the HEPA purifier isn't going to help.

That said, I guess using the air purifier is one way to narrow the diagnosis, because if your symptoms disappear, it would seem likely that they were caused by an allergen in the house. But this diagnostic goal seems hindered by the recommendation to use an antihistamine at the same time. If the treatment does work, you can't be sure whether it was because of the antihistamine or the air purifier.

Anyway, hope that helps at least a little. I feel a tiny bit uncomfortable questioning your doctor's recommendations, and I want to be clear that I'm not a medical professional; this is just based on my own experience and what I've read. Doesn't mean it's wrong, but it doesn't mean it's right, either.

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