Oct. 7th, 2010

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (collage1)
So, I had a skin test for a whopping pile of food allergies, including the ones I'd had identified through blood testing 12 years ago or so.  I hadn't been to my current allergy doc in about 8 years, but she did my immunotherapy shots for cats/dust mites/mold/trees back then, which worked wonders.  And she's Charlie's best allergy doc and is also starting to work on my husband.

When I got to the office I noticed that the sign on the door says "Allergy/Asthma."  My primary care doc is managing my asthma, but it's been haywire all month, so I figured I'd mention it to Allergy doc and see what she thinks.  Before we really even started talking about it she heard me cough and said "oh, you have the reactive coughing-type asthma.  You need to be on a daily inhaled steroid."  Listening to my lungs and such confirmed that, but she said I probably only need to be on it during the bad seasons (fall & winter--cold & dry are bad) and can go off it in the spring, since I don't have pollen problems any more.  

Then she stuck me with a bunch of stuff for testing--everything I have on my prior list as a positive (milk, egg, chocolate, coffee, garlic), everything I have suspicions or worries about now--wheat, soy, lemon, etc.  I included anything I eat really regularly even if I don't have a problem with it--shirimp, for instance.

Result shows I'm allergic to only four foods.  Soy, cinnamon, lemon, orange.  Three of those are likely ingredients in my more-than-daily Diet Coke; the fourth, Soy, is an ingredient in everydamnthing, including random stuff like Reese's Pieces.

But what about all the other stuff that makes me sick?

For the wheat/reflux problem, she said to see a gastoenterologist, because it's a real issue, but not an allergy.

For chocolate, milk, egg, and some others, she said it's likely I have a condition called vasomotor rhinitis, which is where certain foods--either those with vasodilation effects, spicy foods, and very hot or cold foods, cause vasodilation that leads to congestion, runny nose, and asthma attacks.  She said her father had this condition and would get asthma from washing his feet in cold water. Certain foods he could eat in the day but not near bedtime since asthma is worse at night.  She said if her hands get very cold, her nose runs, but she has no allergies. This matches up to my symptomology so well it's alarming.

So her instructions are, 1. get on the inhaled steroid right away, because my asthma is not well controlled. 2. Totally stop eating soy, cinnamon, orange, and lemon. 3. Once the steroid builds up--about 4 or 5 days--experiment with eating milk, etc and see what happens, with the understanding that they will probably cause some problems. Her take is basically if they don't cause asthma, but just a runny nose, I can eat them; just expect to have a runny nose. 4. controlling the asthma & reactive airway may help with the reflux/wheat problem and other upper GI problems; if it doesn't see an innards-doctor about it to figure out if there's a way to help that other than continuing to eliminate wheat.

I'm a bit boggled. It's nice to know that I don't have as many allergies as I thought, because I was beginning to be fearful about the overall state of my immune system. On the other hand, I still can't eat any of the stuff I've been not eating, at least not until many experiments have been done, and avoiding soy is going to be a bitch and a half. However, it seems that I might be able to eventually have occasional chocolate, as long as my asthma is well-controlled and I get a schmancy organic type that is soy-free. Which is certainly a fine thing to contemplate.

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