Monday, September 06, 2010

Thoughts on Food Allergy Testing By Dr. Trenciansky

Food allergies play a role in an enormous variety of health problems. When the body is toxic food allergies often follow. A detoxification program is helpful, but to really heal it may be necessary to figure out which foods you are allergic or sensitive to and eliminate them from your diet for 4-6months. During this time your immune system and digestive system recuperate and afterwards many of the foods may no longer bother you. True food allergies only effect a small part of the population, but many people have food sensitivities. True food allergies are mediated by an antibody type called IgE. These allergies are usually the ones you already know about—you eat shrimp or strawberries and get hives, dairy products give you immediate diarrhea, etc. Much more common are food sensitivities which are also called “delayed hypersensitivity reactions.” These trigger antibodies called IgG. Delayed reactions are exactly that—you eat something today, but tomorrow you have a migraine headache, or wake up feeling groggy and tired, or with bags under your eyes. These delayed reactions can underlay an enormous variety of symptoms and health conditions, many of which you’d never suspect were related to food allergies, like arthritis for instance.

These are several different patterns of allergic reactions:

Fixed reactions: are those that occurs every time you eat a certain food. Even if you haven’t eaten that food for years, you’ll have a reaction the next time you do eat it. (This is typically the only kind of food allergy reaction accepted by traditional allergists.)

Cumulative reactions: occur only after you’ve eaten a certain amount of food, or only after you have eaten the same food several times in a period of a few days. You are able to tolerate a certain amount of the food without suffering a reaction, but above that certain amount you develop symptoms. A classic example is the child who can eat chocolate without any problems but who develops a skin rash or diarrhea on Easter morning after eating handfuls of chocolate eggs.

Variable reactions: may be the worst of all, they occur without any logical pattern. You may be allergic to a specific food only during hay fever season, or only during the premenstrual phase of your menstrual cycle.

Addictive reactions: occur when you are addicted to a certain food and then you avoid it for a period of several hours. You’re likely to develop unpleasant symptoms – literally withdrawal symptoms – that can include craving for the food, irritability, anxiety. Depression, weakness, shakiness, fatigue, headache, and generalized aching. As soon as you eat the specific food, you feel fine again. Usually within a matter of minutes, sometimes a matter of seconds. If you avoid the food entirely, you can usually overcome the withdrawal symptoms within a few days to a week: stubborn cases may require a few weeks to a few months. A food allergy – addiction is a true no-win situation. You feel rotten if you eat the food but feel worse if you don’t. The only sensible solution is to give up the problem food entirely. You may suffer some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms for a few days or even a few weeks, but it should be well worth your effort since you should feel so much better afterwards. Any food can become addictive, the most common offenders include: sugar, chocolate and coffee.

SYMPTOMS OF FOOD SENSITIVITY HEAD: Chronic headaches, migraines, difficulty sleeping, dizziness

MOUTH & THROAT: Coughing, sore throat, hoarseness, swelling/pain, gagging, frequently clearing throat, sores on gums, lips and tongue

EYES, EARS, NOSE: Runny or stuffy nose, postnasal drip, ringing in the ears, blurred vision, sinus problems, watery and itchy eyes, ear infections, hearing loss, sneezing attacks, hay fever, excessive mucus formation, dark circles under eyes, swollen, red or sticky eyelids

HEART & LUNGS: Irregular heartbeat (palpitations, arrhythmia), asthma, rapid heartbeat, chest pain & congestion, bronchitis, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing

GASTROINTESTINAL: Nausea and vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, bloating, passing gas, stomach pain, cramping, heartburnSKIN: Hives, skin rashes, psoriasis, eczema, dry skin, excessive sweating, acne, hair loss, irritation around eyes

MUSCLES & JOINTS: General weakness, muscle/joint aches and pains, arthritis, swelling, stiffness

ENERGY & ACTIVITY: Fatigue, depression, mental dullness and memory lapses, difficulty getting your work done, apathy, hyperactivity, restlessness

EMOTIONS & MIND: Mood swings, anxiety and tension, fear, nervousness, anger, irritability, aggressive behavior, binge eating or drinking, food cravings, depression, confusion, poor comprehension, poor concentration, difficulty learning

OVERALL: Overweight, underweight, fluid retention, dizziness, insomnia, genital itch, frequent urination

ADDITIONAL SIGNS OF FOOD SENSITIVITIES IN CHILDREN In addition to the symptoms listed above, children with food sensitivities may have:Attention Deficit DisorderBehavior problemsLearning problemsReoccurring ear infectionsThese problems are often not recognized as being related to food sensitivities. Children with these problems will benefit from a food evaluation and sensitivity testing.

Elimination Provocation Testing- A food allergy blood test is best used in conjunction with a test you do yourself at home, the Elimination Provocation Test. By adding foods back slowly you can evaluate which foods trigger symptoms anew. It takes persistence and perseverance but the Elimination Provocation test is an accurate way to discover your food allergies in combination with the blood test. For example, if you are testing wheat you need to eat cracked wheat or bulghur wheat, preferably organically grown. Eat it two or three times for two days and see how you feel on the 2nd and 3rd day. If you notice symptoms, take it out of your diet for at least four days and retest. Sometimes you’ll have to test a food 3 times before you are certain of your reaction. Maybe the wheat bothered you or was it your hayfever? Or were you just run down? Or was it the restaurant food you ate the day before? Be a super sleuth. It’s worth the effort.

IgE & IgG Blood Testing for Food Allergies and Sensitivities-Many physicians test only for IgE reactions. If only IgE tests are done, some reactive foods will be missed. It is important to be tested for both IgE and IgG or IgG4 antibodies. This is done with a simple blood test which is sent to our consulting lab. It is then put into little glass wells containing antibodies along with test foods. The technician measures the level of antibody reaction to each food. This test is sometimes a reflection of what you’ve been eating most recently. For example, if you know that dairy products and eggs bother you and you never eat them, they may show up negative on the test because you haven’t eaten any for years. Since this test is measuring delayed hypersensitivity, occaisonally a food shows up on the test, but when you eat it you don’t notice any symptoms right away. A good clinician can help you decipher the test results.

Electrodermal Testing-EDS testing is an excellent way of determining food sensitivities and allergies. Why are food sensitivities and allergies so important? When you eat a food item that you are sensitive/allergic to your body’s immune system spends its valuable time trying to digest that food item instead of on other things like getting ride of toxins, etc.