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Food Friday: Allergies 
2nd-Nov-2007 09:11 pm
Another Friday draws to a close. This is my second Friday in a row sick, albeit I'm sicker this round than last.

Other than coughing until I make myself sick, I've also discovered that I have some sort of allergy.

Most likely this is a food allergy.

On Wednesday evening, I was having a hard time breathing. I thought it was just the bronchitis making itself known.

I absently scratched my stomach...and then scratched it again...and again.

I looked down and saw that there were bright red hives all over my stomach.

And they were spreading. Within 15 minutes, and despite a Benedryl, the hives spread until they were on my stomach, knees, hands, upper lip, and wrists.

My breathing got more and more labored. drjoan did a quick telephone consult and off to A&E I went.

By the time I arrived, I simply couldn't breathe and was in the midst of an asthma attack.

I am very rarely affected by my asthma as I can usually control it with breathing exercises. The most effective is to force myself not to breathe for 30 seconds. Because of the coughing brought on by the bronchitis, it was impossible to go more than 5 seconds before gasping for air to cough with.

The A&E crew treated the asthma attack, but were mystified by the hives. They threw some steroids at the problem and then sent me home with some more to take over the next few days.

95% of hives are caused by food allergies, apparently. I just can't figure out what I ate to cause them.

The only thing unaccounted for: some Irn Bru I drank at the in-laws. I drink Irn Bru very irregularly, and I never drink the non-diet variety. It's the only red herring after an exhaustive of what I've eaten over the last week.

It's possible that the colouring may have caused a reaction.

Either way, I'm staying away from bright orange foodstuffs for the next good while.

Any foods cause you to have allergic reactions? Ever had a reaction without knowing the cause?
2nd-Nov-2007 09:15 pm (UTC)
No, unless you count my lactose intolerance. But that seems to bother me more or less for no apparent reason. *shrugs*

That said, I do get itchy mouth on occasion from places I eat out, but I don't know what the culprit is. Moe's makes my mouth itch but Salsarita (same place for the most part) doesn't. Go figure.
2nd-Nov-2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's the overly cheery greeting...
2nd-Nov-2007 11:40 pm (UTC)
That's probably it! ;)
2nd-Nov-2007 09:17 pm (UTC)
I had a friend in high school who was allergic to red dye #40. She couldn't eat most things that were artificially red or orange or purple. They made her throw up. Yuck. I guess when she first started having reactions, they didn't know what it was, and the doctor told her to take Pepto Bismol to help with the nausea. Heh, bad call on his part, since that stuff is so pink.

I'm mildly allergic to peaches. Nothing like throat-closing or even hives, but I do get itchy. I do have a few nasty migraine triggers, though. Soy sauce and nutra sweet (or other fake sugars) will do it every time. And then if I'm already predisposed to getting one (being over tired or having been in the sun a lot), anything with phosphates or that's very high in salt content will trigger a migraine. Stuff like lunchmeat, hot dogs, cheese, canned soup, peanut butter, etc. You get used to avoiding it.
2nd-Nov-2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
Weird. It must make impulse eating pretty difficult. Which...if you're me, would be a good thing. :)
3rd-Nov-2007 03:33 am (UTC) - Artificial sweeteners do it every time, for me!
I can use sugar, agave nectar, honey and stevia .... that's about it. Aside the trace amount in s/f gum, I have to avoid the stuff like the plague! I also have to avoid perfume counters :-P~

For the others, I use Adam's unsalted organic PB (the kind you stir up and keep reeffer'd) I tried reg PB, after that, and couldn't do it.

For hot dogs, lunchmeat, etc. also keep in mind of the nitrates, which are also a HUGE migraine trigger.
3rd-Nov-2007 03:06 pm (UTC) - Re: Artificial sweeteners do it every time, for me!
Yeah. I've been getting migraines since I was in early grammar school. They stopped for a while in late high school/college, but they started up again when I got to grad school. Go figure. I've definitely figured out what to avoid and when. :) Sometimes, the hard way.
2nd-Nov-2007 09:29 pm (UTC)
I used to have a severe allergy to tuna--not fresh tuna, but any sort of tinned or bottled tuna. It would make my throat swell up. Not enough to stop me breathing--not that dangerous; but very uncomfortable. Interestingly enough, it's gradually passed off in the last five years or so. I'm very glad, as I actually *love* tunafish.

I do wonder from time to time whether any of the mild physical discomforts I notice occasionally are newer allergies I haven't identified specifically as food allergies. But I think most of the issues I've had are just my poor stomach reacting to decades of me treating it as if it were made of cast iron and finally revolting a little bit. Plus me slowly turning into a fossil. :-)
2nd-Nov-2007 10:05 pm (UTC)
You and Caoimhe would have a ball together then. She about climbs my leg when the tuna comes out.

3rd-Nov-2007 03:45 am (UTC)
This was going to be my main comment, but you've already touched upon, so I'll do it here.

Fresh fish, like tuna and salmon, if they aren't *exactly* fresh, but not *exactly* bad, are a culprit for histamines, which can build up in the flesh, and trigger asthmalike and hivelike reactions. A couple of my coworkers had this happen to them, when they went out for lunch, with both having the grilled ahi salad.

They can also harbor nasty buildups of DDTs n other toxins, in their skin (this is why I do not order things like fried salmon skin sushi items). I had a particularly nasty reaction to some salmon a few years back, which woke me up in the middle of the night with horrific hives and a fever. I didn't have an acute asthma attack, but life was indeed hellish, for about a week. My friend and I ate from the same fish, but I was the only one who ate the skin (which was SUPPOSED to be good for you; full of Omega-3's n such), so this is what I think I reacted to.

So, uh, yeah .... retrace you fritti d' mare, over the last few days.
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2nd-Nov-2007 10:03 pm (UTC)
Now I'm going to be thinking through all the lemon type things I've been around...

I could see lemon facial soap being a big no-no for you. :)
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2nd-Nov-2007 09:47 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about your allergy woes. That stuff's not fun at all. :\

Well, you know about my biggies. The meat allergy is an unpleasant one and requires a hospital visit nine times out of ten. The tomatoes is just uncomfortable. So long as I don't ingest a lot of it, I'm fine. It causes a pretty nasty stomach ache (and accompanying GI issues about an hour later). Sometimes it'll give me light hives on my throat. I just avoid tomatoes - unfortunately, though, they're in a LOT of food. I've got pills I can take to help - I just try to avoid needing them.

I have some nut allergies, as well, that cause me to do everything from be ill to my stomach to have a pretty severe throat swelling and asthmatic reaction. Almonds are the biggest no-no, though others do give me problems. Peanuts (which, as we know, are not nuts) and hazelnuts are both okay.
2nd-Nov-2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Must be hard to avoid tomatoes sometimes. I know they tend to be in just about everything...
2nd-Nov-2007 10:24 pm (UTC)
Can't help on this one. I'd keep off the Irn Bru just in case! A few years ago I had an attack of huge lumps, really massive great things randomly spread over body rather than in one area. It happened several times over the course of a few weeks. Dr thought it might be a food allegy and put me on waiting list for hosp appointment. Then it stopped happening. This was about 10 years ago. Never figured it out! By the time I got hosp appointment through I was living the other side of the country and hadn't had an attack in 9 months so I didn't bother going.

I can't drink white wine. Makes me very ill, even half a glass.
2nd-Nov-2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
Sulfites, alas. No more red wine for me ever again - which is a real shamme, because I *love* good port - and no more fast food/frozen potatoes and suchlike. I'm also allergic to MSG, though it's slightly milder. Both give me a splitting, dizzying headache, but with the sulfites the pain is so intense it makes me queasy.

I'm so sorry to hear you're ill! Feel better soon, and I hope you get this allergy figured out. (Allergy tests are no fun - I remember going to an immunologist to get tested for every imaginable allergy when I was wee and they were trying to diagnose what turned out to be an immunoglobulin A deficiency -- no joy, I wasn't allergic to a thing, but the test was itchy and horrible. And I ended up allergic to a couple medicines anyway. And later developed allergies to sulfites, MSG, and very likely bees. *Sigh.*)
3rd-Nov-2007 08:15 am (UTC)
I remember my sister getting the scratch test. No fun at all. I can imagine it being worse as a wee one. :-/
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3rd-Nov-2007 08:13 am (UTC)
Something you picked up in Paris?
3rd-Nov-2007 01:03 am (UTC)
Scary. I hope you figure out what's causing it quickly.

No food allergies (except that MSG makes me sick and migrainy). However, a friend of mine gets random hives from food occassionally. Seems to be connected with her menstrual cycle (like it makes her more sensitive to certain things like wheat).
3rd-Nov-2007 03:53 am (UTC) - One more thing ...
Are you being treated with a/b's, for your tonsilitis? I know things like Keflex give me horrid hives!

Feel better, you! ***hugs***
3rd-Nov-2007 01:31 pm (UTC) - Re: One more thing ...
Weirdly, I've never had trouble with antibiotics, even though two of my grandparents did have trouble.

I'm on amoxicillin at the moment, I've had it many a time before, but it's not impossible that it's the problem. I'm done with the round of steroids on Sunday, so I'll discover if the hives o' hell will come back then.
3rd-Nov-2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
*drumroll* I'm allergic to Irn Bru.

Well, orange and yellow colourings, actually. But I have had really bad asthma from Irn Bru in the past, and also lemon meringue pie and such. No hives, but I've never had hives from any of my allergies. Sorry to hear you went through that - it sounds really scary.

I'm also allergic to kiwi, which is never a problem unless I'm being served a mixed fruit salad as part of a set meal, or some chef uses slices as a dessert garnish. Even if I dont eat any actual kiwi chunks, tiny amounts of juice are enough, unfortunately (it's like nut allergies - a trace will do it). But it's not like you see kiwi that often.
4th-Nov-2007 02:58 pm (UTC)
I'm lactose intolerant. Hideous stomach cramps etc when I eat dairy. Sometimes it's worth it for a bit of cheese though. Otherwise it's soya milk and goats cheese for me :(
6th-Nov-2007 10:41 am (UTC)
Some time last year I bought a couple of fresh mackerel from the supermarket, which I cooked and me and dreema ate for dinner. Biting into it kind of made my lips tingle, which I thought nothing of. As soon as I'd finished dinner I felt like I had a migraine coming on so took some painkillers, went upstairs to put my PJ's on and go to bed. Then I saw I had red blotches all over my chest. After a few minutes I was really hot and migrainey and my face was bright red, so I phoned NHS24. While I was on the phone to them my throat started to swell up so they told me to get straight down the local out of hours clinic. The doctor gave me a shot of steroids in the bum (ouch!) and antihistamine tablets, which sorted me out quick. dreema was fine, but then we ate 2 different fish, so mine might have been dodgy, but it didn't make me sick.

Since then a couple of times I've bitten into some fresh grilled tuna and my lips started tingling, so I've spat it out.

Interesting to read above that semi-fresh fish can have nasty things in. It's not going to stop me eating fish, I'll just be careful about it.
6th-Nov-2007 10:51 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah...I remember you mentioning that.
Good for the NHS24. That must have been quite frightening.

Do you have a fish van that comes round? I know that the Balmedie folk really like the freshness of his stuff.
7th-Nov-2007 02:36 am (UTC)
... fish van!

I haven't thought of that since I was living on Skye ... oh, man, I really miss that now! One of the fisherman coming from Armadale pier with the day's catch in the back of his van ...
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