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Posts tagged ‘allergy testing’

How To Determine if Pollen Is Making Your Skin Flare-Up: The Eczema and Allergies Connection

By Dr. Hotze (see bio below)

You may be familiar with eczema flare-ups in the winter, as the combination of dry air and extreme temperature changes (cold outside, hot inside) can exacerbate your skin’s condition. However, have you ever considered the correlation between your eczema and allergies?

As a doctor who’s treated many people with eczema, I’ve noticed that springtime allergens like grass and tree pollens can make symptoms worse. By treating the body’s reaction to seasonal allergies, the eczema flare-ups often diminish or disappear. Read more

How I Became a Food Allergy Mom

 

By Elizabeth Flora Ross (Bio below)

“I think she’s allergic to strawberries,” my husband said one night. I was dubious. My daughter’s eyes would water, her nose would run and she would sneeze when she ate them. But I did not recognize those as food allergy symptoms – I dismissed it as seasonal allergies. One evening as we enjoyed a family movie night, our daughter began to complain she was itchy and hot. With only the light from the television, I couldn’t really see her. Then she said she needed to use the potty. When I turned on the light in the bathroom, I was shocked by what I saw. Her face and lips had transformed into a huge, red, swollen rash.

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Don’t Make This Mistake – Why You Should Always Ask For Copies of Lab Results

So, I have this draft folder where I save all my ideas for posts knowing one day I’ll come back to finish them up and publish them here. Some posts are more developed than others, some are just a sentence, some are just a link I found interesting and wanted to save for inspiration. While thinking about what to write today I happened across this old post from six months ago. While it’s quite outdated for my family, it’s still very relevant for all of you because I learned a big lesson from this experience and wanted to share it with you. So, today I’ll share this late, but still great post with you.

Six months ago…. Read more

Eczema & Asthma – Testing for Food Triggers

I’ve asked Dr. Farshchian to help us distinguish between food allergies and sensitivities and to help us better understand testing methods for each. While we’re not sure if food is the root cause of eczema, most of us have experienced first hand how food can trigger flare ups. I hope today’s post can shed some light on the IgE vs. IgG debate – knowing both can trigger eczema and asthma.

-Jennifer

Eczema & Asthma – Testing for Food Triggers

By Dr. Thalia Farshchian, N.D. (Bio below)

Food sensitivity testing is gaining popularity to assist in identifying triggers to chronic conditions like eczema, asthma, nasal congestion and more. To draw a conclusion that a particular food triggers symptoms, the gold standard for identification is an elimination challenge.

The elimination challenge can be quite the challenge in and of itself when you are considering eliminating all of the most common triggers: gluten, dairy, eggs, corn, soy, nuts. In clinical practice, I have found food sensitivity testing to be a very helpful guide as it alleviates an element of stress on the child and family.

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Mother’s Intuition Saves her Son from Surgery

Kids get sick, it’s just part of growing up. But when is a cold not just a cold? When does it mean there could be more going on internally? What if you could help your child get better? I know you’re like me and would want to do everything you could possibly do for your child in order to keep them healthy and happy. Today’s post is about how one mom did just that. She realized surgery wasn’t the answer in her son’s case and she went looking for answers.

– Jennifer Read more

Frustrations and No Answers For Allergic Asthma

Frustration for me is having no answers. Right now I’m very frustrated.

Over the past few weeks Tristan’s asthma has started to flare out of control. Every night he has coughing fits as the Ventolin and the air purifier don’t offer the relief they used to. We’re on to Flovent now to see if it can help provide him with some relief. I cringe at using it because it’s an inhaled steroid with studies proving it inhibits growth, although by a very small amount. Regardless, it’s a steroid and in my mind, is not for long-term use and I like to avoid them at all costs. BUT since breathing is essential, if Flovent is what I have to use to ensure my child can breath properly and safely for now, then so be it. I will submit to using it for the safety of my child. But I vow to find his asthma triggers. I will not simply medicate my child for the rest of his life. I will find answers.

After years of struggling with his eczema, we finally have a good understanding of his food allergies and sensitivities, which were the primary triggers for his itchy skin. So I was very sure that the answer to his flaring asthma had to blamed on something else – most likely environmental or seasonal allergies. So, first stop, the allergist for some skin testing. I know birch pollen causes his eczema to flare up each spring, but doesn’t seem to affect his breathing. But when ragweed was at its peak late this summer, he had a severe asthma attack out of the blue. Coincidence? Before and after that his asthma would come and go with the night-time coughing. Was it due to ragweed? Mold? Dust mites? I couldn’t wait for the allergy test as I was 100% sure we would find the answers.

frustrated manAnd I was very wrong. I’m sorry to say that Tristan tested negative in skin tests for the most common seasonal and environmental allergens. Like I said, frustration. That’s where I am right now. Beyond frustrated.

I felt so disheartened when I saw the results. I’m sure most people would be relieved to see negative test results, but not me. I wanted answers. I asked the doctor how this could happen – how could Tristan test negative when it seemed pretty obvious that ragweed triggered his severe asthma attack. The ragweed numbers were off the chart that day according to meteorologists. It couldn’t be a coincidence. According to his doctor, there are some people, mostly atopic, that test negative in skin tests, but show positive results (an actual immunoglobulin E (IgE) mediated responses) in the lungs themselves! What? Wow, I’d never heard of this. Before I got too excited, he explained that it’s not recommended to do the lung test on young children as it’s quite invasive as severe coughing must be induced in order to get the secretions they need for testing. I believe this method is called bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL).

So, the pediatric allergist was not willing to do the test on him, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I’d be game either after reading more about it. Where does that leave me? With no answers. Frustrated.

But, as with his eczema, I shouldn’t have expected the asthma journey to be easy. Medication is readily available, but actual causes, actual triggers, much harder to find. It may take years, but I won’t give up. In the mean time, Tristan is going to be taking Flovent regularly so we can get a better handle on his asthma. The doctor had an excellent point when he indicated that inflamed lungs result in more severe allergic reactions to food allergens. And I certainly do not want to experience full-blown anaphylaxis again, ever. So, Flovent for now.

Then, next step is homeopathy. Fingers crossed, toes crossed, everything crossed. Surely it won’t be that easy, but I’m always hopeful. If I lose hope, I’ll give up the fight for my child and that’s just not an option.

Confession: I Overlooked a Suspected Allergen In an Ingredient List

I feel really lucky at this moment because I made a mistake, a HUGE mistake. Thankfully, Tristan is ok.

A little background: We think Tristan has an allergy to almonds. He used to drink almond milk daily and was incredibly itchy. After stopping the milk, the itching stopped. So, now, as far I as I know, he hasn’t had almonds for about a year. No, I take that back, he tried a bite of yogurt made from almonds the other day (completely dairy free) and he got a little pink around his mouth, so he didn’t have any more. I avoid almonds now because I just don’t know if he could have developed a more severe reaction to them, like he did with dairy not long ago. Blood and skin testing was always negative, like most everything else – even for his anaphylaxis to dairy. Read more

After an Anaphylactic Reaction – The Road to Recovery

It’s been just over two weeks since Tristan’s first anaphylactic reaction. Since then I’ve realized a few things and learned even more from all the supportive comments and words of encouragement from all of you (which I am extremely grateful for! Thank you!).

1) False negatives with food allergy tests are more common than you’d think. There are tons of people out there, who like Tristan, react negatively in food allergy tests, but indeed have food allergies. I was really surprised by how many of you commented that you’d received false negative results as well. Incredible! Why isn’t allergy testing more accurate?!!! Think of the children and adults going misdiagnosed (false negatives and false positives)! Grrr!! I wish in-clinic food challenges were more supported by physicians – it’s not called the Gold Standard in allergy diagnosis for nothing.

2) It takes some time to recover emotionally and physically from an anaphylactic episode. For at least one week I kept having flash backs to that night. I’d relive certain moments in my head, but the worst was visualizing (again and again) my son – swollen, blue, covered in hives, and unable to get enough air. I’m sure I will never, ever completely be free of those horrifying images. I’ve been hugging my son a little tighter and looking at him more appreciatively lately, thankful that I still have him in my life.

It’s also common to have additional allergic reactions, although usually on a smaller scale, after anaphylaxis. We’re lucky this didn’t happen with Tristan, but he did experience pain in his thigh and butt in the area where the epinephrine was injected. The soreness was the worst just under one week later, walking was quite painful for him.

3) It’s not always easy to talk about it. Tristan (just about to turn five-years-old) does not want to talk about his anaphylaxis. In fact, he tells me exactly that when I try to get him to open up about what happened. I did want to make sure he didn’t blame himself in any way for his allergic reaction, so I asked him and he assured me he knew it wasn’t his fault, but that it was my fault. Oh. Well. Yes, he was right. He said it in a way that wasn’t blaming me, but more simply that I was responsible. So, we talked about that (for as long as he would, which was not long) as I wanted him to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that mama did NOT know he was going to react that way. If I did I would have NEVER given him that cheese. He seemed to really understand and agree. Phew.

If you have trouble getting your children to open up about their food allergies or anaphylactic reaction, here are some great tips from Natalie, who suffers from multiple food allergies and has experienced anaphylaxis many times.

  • Try to get them talking while doing something they enjoy. Turn what your child likes doing into an opportunity to open up and talk about it. For instance, if he likes anything artsy, try drawing with him. Try drawing the ambulance or the hospital and prompt your child in that way. If the child is really into trucks you could set up a time and go by your local fire station and they can show him their trucks and how they know when they need to go help someone, etc. You could give them a heads up about what had happened and have them talk to your child about how brave he was. It may be really exciting for your child and provide them with the opportunity to talk about how brave he was even though it was scary!

I followed Natalie’s advice and took Tristan to visit the firemen who came to our house as first responders on the night of his anaphylactic reaction. I called ahead to the station to find out when the men who were on call that night would be available for us to meet with them. Tristan and I baked them cookies (allergy-free of course!) and took a little tour of the fire station.

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visitig our heroes

  • Connect with other with food allergies. Another idea is to find someone in the area who has gone through the same thing. I know in our area there are different support groups for food allergies and if you are able to find one you could find a food allergy buddy. FAAN has a list of support groups here and Kids with Food Allergies has a wonderful online support system. It’s a great way for parents to get together and discuss the stresses of managing food allergies as well. Often times I wish there was more of a community and connection between the kids though. I still get frustrated when people try to relate to me after a reaction because they don’t know what it feels like. The feelings during a reaction are hard to explain and overwhelming!  If you can find someone for him to relate to it may really help.

After Tristan’s reaction, I started reaching out to other parents in our area to start a play group for kid’s with food allergies. It will be a sort of support group for the parents and a great way for kids with food allergies to connect with other children going through the same thing. I cannot wait for our first meet-up!

  • Give them time to heal. Parents process allergic reactions much differently than children do, so be careful of how frequently you bring up the experience with your children. With food allergies it is such a fine line with the amount of information you give to children. Of course as they grow up, you want them to know that food allergies are extremely serious and can make them very, very sick, but you certainly don’t want them to fear eating.

I completely agree with Natalie about not wanting our children to live in fear of eating. Thankfully my little guy is quite the foodie already, but I know fears can manifest at the drop of the hat, so his eating habits are something I will keep a close eye on. I want him to be well aware of his food restrictions, but I certainly don’t want him to develop any eating disorders or anxieties about food. And I don’t ever want him to feel left out because of his food allergies. Definitely a tough balance and one that will take lots of practice.

How was your or your child’s recovery from anaphylaxis? What helped you get through the emotional and physical aspects?

Our Eczema Elimination Diet Success (How You Can Do It Too!)

An elimination diet really isn’t that hard and for many it provides a great sense of relief when food allergies or intolerances are discovered. In truth, it’s deciding to do the diet and embracing your decision by fully planning and preparing for it, that’s the hardest.

Why an Elimination Diet for Eczema?

After years of worsening eczema and unsuccessful attempts with multiple doctors to identify the triggers, I finally realized I could no longer put off an eczema elimination diet for my son. It was time to figure out which foods were aggravating his eczema when allergy testing all came back negative. The best way to do that, according to many health professionals, in fact it’s considered the “gold standard” for food allergy diagnosis by many pediatricians, is by conducting a food challenge. A food challenge is when certain foods are consumed in small doses and then the individual is monitored very closely, in a physicians office is best, to determine if the food causes any reaction in the body. Read more

Allergy and Eczema Improvements with Low Dose Allergy Treatment (LDA)

By Brianna of Allergic Adventures (bio below)

Our allergic adventures began in 2007 technically, but we didn’t realize what was going on until 2008. Our oldest son was born happy & healthy. At about 2-1/2 months he developed a rash, we took him in & were prescribed a cream. We used the cream, naively I suppose, & the rash disappeared. I didn’t think much more of it, or the fact he spit up often. A happy spitter, the doctor’s called him, so nothing to worry about. Of course hindsight is 20/20. Read more

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