Mother and Son “Bonding” at the Allergist
Tristan and I went to see a new allergist together. We both needed some testing done and I figured it would be easier for him to see me go through the tests first and realize it was no big deal. He thankfully didn’t remember the last time he went, two years ago, when they did a skin test, followed by a blood draw – ouch. This time the doctor was nice, but a little condescending, and more than once mentioned that I should relax and have a glass of wine. Huh? Did I seem that frazzled and distressed for this stranger to suggest during our first meeting that I needed to unwind? And I thought I was all organized and put together – after all, I had a full page (front and back) divided by sections on eczema, allergies and asthma, for Tristan’s past treatments and reactions. I let the doctor’s comments about my stress levels slide and tried to discuss my list with him. Like the dermatologist we met with months ago at the children’s hospital, he agreed that Tristan’s eczema wasn’t from food allergies. I read him the full list of food items that make him flair-up. He said it was strange and he couldn’t explain it. Interesting, isn’t he an allergist? And he still agreed he should be tested for food allergies, probably since I mentioned he reacts by getting really itchy and sometimes breaks out in hives from certain foods.
According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network:
“Food allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a food protein. Ingestion of the offending food may trigger the sudden release of chemicals, including histamine, resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction. The symptoms may be mild (rashes, hives, itching, swelling, etc.) or severe (trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness, etc.)….. Parents should become familiar with the early signs of allergic disease such as eczema, hives, repeated diarrhea and/or vomiting in reaction to formulas, wheezing, and talk to a doctor about those symptoms.”
Based on FAAN’s statement, it seems Tristan may have “early signs of allergic disease” in the form of eczema to some allergens (gluten), but more of a true allergy to other things (hazelnuts, walnuts, soy, casein) when he breaks out in hives or gets intensely itchy. Thankfully, he’s never been anaphylactic. We had already determined a lot of his triggers, but we wanted to confirm them with the allergy tests.
The doctor was taking notes as I was recapping Tristan’s history. He then had us wait for the nurse to start the testing. I went first, as planned, and it was not pain-free. So, I did my best not to flinch as the nurse pricked the skin on my lower arm 12 times. I asked her why they didn’t use the device that pricks multiple locations at once and introduces the allergens at the same time. She claims it wasn’t as accurate, but I do recall it hurting quite a bit less. I could deal, but could Tristan? He did pretty well for the first few pricks, but cried for the rest and quickly recovered when it was done. I was worried he’d get too itchy from a reaction, but he only reacted to one allergen in the test, hazelnuts, and it didn’t seem to bother him. It was a good thing because I had left our ScratchMeNot mittens at home.
Based on my first skin test reactions they conducted a more detailed test on my upper arm. This time they injected the allergen under my skin with a needle seven different times. This definitely hurt. Tristan could see it in my face. I turned to the nurse and told her I couldn’t put him through this next phase of testing. She actually told me to lie and tell him it didn’t hurt. Just a little white lie as she put it. Nope, sorry, won’t do it. So, Tristan’s skin testing ended after the first round.
From skin and blood testing results two years ago, he reacted to walnuts only, but this time walnuts appeared to be fine. It really boggles my mind that he can react within seconds of eating a food with a red rash on his face and/or incredible itchiness immediately after eating certain foods, but that the same food does not appear as an allergy in testing. I just don’t get it. FAAN claims that this kind of reaction is an allergic reaction, so why doesn’t it display as a positive reaction in a skin prick test? It seems food elimination diets are the only true way to determine all allergies and eczema or asthma triggers, if they are food related. I’m a huge fan of elimination diets, having gone through it with Tristan. It’s difficult, but the results, if done right, are usually quite clear. I’ll definitely go into this more in a future posting.
So, the results from the skin test are:
Jennifer – highly allergic to grasses, trees (mostly birch), rag and other weeds
Tristan – allergic to hazelnuts
Next step is to test Tristan’s blood for IgE antibodies for walnuts, almonds (since he has reacted to those in the past) and hazelnuts.