Case study continued: Allergies and Misconceptions

What are Allergies

I looked up the list of top allergens and found that (in the US) the top allergens are:
Milk, Eggs Peanuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy and Wheat (why is why they have to be labeled). Read more at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/food-allergies/AA00057 and http://surefoodsliving.com/food-allergy-intolerance/the-top-8-food-allergens/.
But a person may also have a lesser known allergy like a rice or lentil allergy.
An allergy is a response to a protein, and a food allergy is when the body reacts to these proteins in foods.
I notice that gluten allergies are common (but not commonly known to us) and symptoms like gas or diarrhea from these are ignored. Gluten allergies, in particular, are far reaching and have a massive range of effects, from skin problems to neurological issues. Even some facets of autism are attributed to it. Unfortunately, it is hard to understand this and there is no black and white test for it.

(Image – courtesy of Flickr user – ehmeelu – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ehmeelu/)
 

The response of our body to external substances is measured by IgX levels.
The response tested by an allergist with skin tests is the common IgE response. The body could also have IgG or IgA responses, which are more delayed and can be ignored.
So, an allergist might tell you that you do not have allergies, which actually means that your skin (and breathing) does not react to these. But some food for example could lead to stomach reactions and your body might produce reactions via antibodies for food allergies that only special tests can detect, and the rare reactions are harder to detect.
Thus, a skin allergy is quite different from a food allergy.
This has some good info – http://isitallergy.com/food-symptoms.php

Allergies are detected by some self experimentation and by the Elimination Diet which attempts to remove most foods from your diet and slowly introduce them and observe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elimination_diet and http://www.livestrong.com/article/314976-elimination-diets-for-allergy/ explain this in detail.
Once found, a current solution is unfortunately to avoid these foods or then try some pill that helps dissolve the proteins before the body reacts to them. e.g. pills for Lactose Intolerance.

Allergy testing can be done at some specialized labs, like Cyrex Labs – http://www.cyrexlabs.com/CyrexTestsArrays/tabid/136/Default.aspx or by Quest Diagnostics, etc. You will have to do some experimentation here or if they understand your problem, talk to an endocrinologist or a naturopath with good knowledge and logic.
You can do some detailed testing with stomach biopsies too, which could show that the stomach wall is affected by allergy reactions, but these require anesthesia and are done by an expert

I’ll get into more specific allergies in the future.
Meanwhile, if you have stomach cramps or indigestion or some weird and chronic problem, consider the various allergies and tests I mention above…

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About Ra

Software Engineer (worked in corporations to healthcare start-ups), Geek, Musician, Artist, Fellow Human - living in the covergence space of healthcare, software, interaction design, the quantified self and genetics, music and spirituality
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