03 Jun Allergies Series: What are the Symptoms, Complications, and Tests Available?
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What are the symptoms of food allergies?
This is a very difficult question to answer because it can be anything – or nothing! Many, some experts think MOST, people have no symptoms at all but have inflammation inside their intestines without any noticeable problem. Other symptoms include:
- Allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies)
- Sinus problems
- Rashes of all types (Eczema, Seborrhea, Psoriasis, Urticaria, and so forth)
- GERD (acid reflux)
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain
- Migraine Headaches
- Chronic cystitis (bladder pain)
The list goes on and on.
The University of Chicago Celiac Disease center explains the symptoms of just one type of food allergy, which may apply to any other as well:
There are hundreds of signs and symptoms of [food allergy], many of them subtle and seemingly unrelated. Yet many people with [food allergies] have no symptoms at all. In those cases, the undamaged part of their small intestine is able to absorb enough nutrients to prevent symptoms. However, people without symptoms are still at risk for some of the complications…[i]
What are the complications?
People with chronic inflammation in their intestines are more prone to many diseases, and not just of the intestines. Of course, they may have gas, bloating, diarrhea, cramps, GERD, and other signs of intestinal inflammation, but they may also have poor absorption of nutrients that lead to other, seemingly unrelated problems, such as:
- Thyroid problems
- Frequent infections
- Autoimmune diseases (Lupus)
- … and many others.
It also leads to a shortened lifespan, degeneration, and decline in function. Thus, food sensitivities are common, and life-threatening, making them a very important problem!
Are there any tests to see if you have food allergies?
Traditionally, skin testing using grids of many needles to inject tiny amounts of the food protein under the skin to see if it creates a reaction has been used. Unfortunately, this is not an accurate way to measure the reaction to foods in the intestines. This method is about 50% reproducible; meaning if you do the same test again, you will get half of them the same – about like flipping a coin! There are some new tests that are a little better, but have their own problems. For example, we can measure antibodies to various proteins, however you may have a reaction to a different protein in the food! These are about 80% reproducible. There are some cellular tests that see if you white blood cells react to the food, but, again, they aren’t consistent. So, what do we do?
I often use the antibody test to get us close or to give us some clues as to what might be going on. Then we do the Elimination Diet, like Marilyn, above. She showed reactions to milk, wheat, and candida, so we eliminated them. (for candida we do a yeast cleanse which eliminates simple sugars) The real test is to see if you have a reaction. For those who don’t have any symptoms, it’s very hard to do this because you aren’t sure what you are looking for. However, I have had several people with chronic fatigue and really no other issues just eliminate everything except lamb broth and green leafy vegetables for three weeks who have felt much better.
After eliminating a food (or multiple foods) for three weeks, you can start adding them back into your diet one-by-one. Give only one day between them. Any reaction will be apparent within one day.