Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Old Post Resurrection: All Things Allergy Related circa 4/2011

So, I have been in search of ways to resurrect my old posts from my lost blog.  Via Web Archives, I have been able to comb through some and pull out what I think may still be relevant.  Today I am sharing a post I wrote about my Allergy testing, going gluten free for a little white and treating the migraines that I have suffered from for quite some time.
Treatment for allergies and sensitivities

As I had mentioned in earlier posts, I have some health issues that I have been trying to remedy.  I have been searching for the root of the problem and that has led me to some experiments and testing to determine whether or not I may have allergies that are causing my discomfort.

Gluten Free
experimented with a gluten free diet to see if I had a sensitivity.  I noticed some relief after a month of being completely (to the best of my knowledge) gluten free, but nothing that said to me “There’s the problem!”
Once I had finished my gluten free month, I gave myself a few weeks to gorge myself on gluten (which did not seem to change my body) with the intention of having blood work done to determine if I have Celiac Disease.  The test was negative, so that was scratched.

Allergy Testing
The last thing that I wanted done was a complete allergy testing.  I was tested about 7 years ago and things were very uncertain.  I didn’t like the doctor or his staff and felt a little neglected, so I took what they had to say very lightly.  This time I chose a doctor that came highly recommended and while I am very pleased with his treatment, I am still left with some questions.
I had a scratch test performed for indoor and outdoor allergens as well as the most common food allergens.  I have suffered from what I thought were seasonal allergies my entire life.  I have tried every medication on the market and seen little relief.  My scratch test came back negative for everything including the histamine that is supposed to be the control to test my reactions against.
I was told that some people do not react to the scratch test and need to have the allergens injected into the first later of skin individually to see an adequate reaction.  So, two weeks later I returned for 19 shots in the arm.  It was determined that I do not have allergies at all.  However, I was made aware of some things that I did not know about before.

Allergies Vs. Sensitivities
Apparently, there are two reactions that the allergist looking for when a patient exhibits certain symptoms.  They are looking for allergic reactions, which have a genetic component, and sensitivity.  The only difference between the two is that allergies are genetic and sensitivity is not.  An allergy will respond to regular shots, but sensitivities will not.  I don’t know why, but it never occured to me that I had environmental sensitivities versus actual allergies.  It seem silly, because I have been experimenting with the idea of gluten allergy versus a sensitivity for months.

The treatment that we are trying now is a combination of 2 different nasal sprays and an over the counter decongestant.  I cannot have the usual decongestants that are in many medications that make them effective because I will have increased blood pressure and heart palpitations.  This decongestant is called Phenylephrine, commonly seen on the shelves as Sudafed PE, but is not actually Sudafed.
The nasal sprays seem redundant, but they act in two different ways.  The first aids in decongestion and drainage and is to be used 1-2 times per day.  The second is to be used as needed to help dry the nasal passages.  So far this has been effective in keeping me from having incessant sinus headaches.

Migraines and Sinuses
Something that I wasn’t expecting was that this new doctor would take my migraines into consideration.  He understood better that I could have imagined (based on my past experiences with doctors) how my sinuses issues were related to my migraines.  I was thrilled that he wanted to treat me for both.  I am now on a very low dose of a blood pressure medication that keeps the blood vessels in my brain in check.  This is taken daily while I have two other options for on-the-spot treatment as needed.  It sounds like a lot of medication, but it seems to really be working because I have hardly had a headache in over a week-Amazing!

Asthma and Airway Constriction
Another thing that I didn’t see coming was that I have some airway constriction.  I am not labeled with Asthma, but I was prescribed an emergency inhaler for situations that require exertion or cause me distress, which seem to affect my airways.  I never thought about the symptoms in my chest as asthmatic, but now that he has explained how it works and I have felt the affect an dilation medication has on me, I get it.

Being a Redhead
What I am still a little upset about is that I have these sensitivities that have no cause.  I have this nagging suspicion that there is a reason for my body being so sensitive to my environment in comparison to the average person.  I am a fair skinned redhead who has been told her whole life that redheads are thin skinned and just sensitive to everything in ways that others are not.  I don’t know if there is any truth to this or if there is an underlying reason that we do tend to be fragile (for lack of a better work, at the moment).  I also wander if this were to be true, how have we continued to exist?  Wouldn’t we have died out eventually based on survival of the fittest?
For now, I am happy to have some control over my headaches and I am working toward understanding what may be the cause for the rest of it.  I will continue to fill you in on what happens because I always find it interesting and informative to hear about someone else’s medical discoveries.  I hope that there is someone out there who reads what I have gone through and is able to make a breakthrough of their own.

Update:  I am still suffering from seasonal allergies, but I find that most of my digestion issues have been remedied by limiting/avoiding dairy and eating a more plant based diet.  Without meat and dairy my body seems to be able to process things more efficiently.
My mother has been following a wheat free diet for the last two months and has seen a significant decrease in her joint pain and has lost 20 Ibs.  It really seems to have benefited her health and she is still seeing new results as she goes along.  I hope to right a post about her journey in the future.

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