December 26, 2008

Introduction - Aug. 2008

Updating April 29, 2015---

Technically this is a blog, but I am using it as a simple web site to share what I’ve learned about allergies (especially non-IgE allergies); to help others manage their allergies; to suggest theories and avenues for further research; and to push the medical establishment to accept and use information about non-IgE allergies to help their patients and stop using the word 'allergy' in a narrow way that confuses patients and other non-allergists.

Update - since I wrote this in 2008, the term "non-IgE allergy" has become much more common and was used in 2009 in the NIH proposed guidelines for management of food allergy.

Before I go on, there are three important things for people with allergies to know:

1. Chamomile cross-reacts with ragweed allergy. Allergy to ragweed pollen is very common. Hay fever symptoms in late summer and fall are usually caused by ragweed. Chamomile is related to ragweed and may cause symptoms in people with ragweed allergy.

Chamomile is present in most tea blends and many natural cosmetics such as lotions, moisturizers and deodorants. I have ragweed allergy and I’ve gotten symptoms from chamomile in both teas and cosmetics.

2. People with mold allergy may get symptoms from cheese, because cheese is often made with mold.

3. Aged foods contain naturally occurring histamines which can raise the histamine load in a person with allergies and cause symptoms. In my experience aged foods are usually cheeses or meats.

Update - I forgot to mention dried fruits, including tomatoes.

I’ve had both IgE and non-IgE allergies all my life. (Please see “Terminology of Allergies” for an explanation of these terms). I have non-IgE allergies to soy products, sugars, and eggs, and they were never diagnosed because the allergy/immunology establishment didn't recognize and treat non-IgE allergies. In fact, the allergists I saw growing up did not acknowledge the possibility of food allergies at all. I figured out by myself that I’m allergic to soy, and an internet support group assisted me in figuring out the sugar and egg allergies, both of which are mild compared to my soy allergy.

I got allergy shots as a child, but I don’t know what allergens they were for. That was a long time ago. In July of 2006 I went to an allergist for the first time since then and got skin prick and intradermal allergy tests. The reaction within 20 minutes showed IgE allergies to molds and ragweed.

The next morning I had a delayed reaction to one of the allergens – a 2-inch itchy red bump. Unfortunately I had not asked for a copy of the diagram the nurse made of the injections, and I couldn’t remember which allergen this was. I called my allergists office. For delayed reactions like this the nurses have been trained to say “don’t worry about that, it doesn’t matter”.

I said, “Excuse me, I happen to know this indicates a non-IgE reaction, and it does matter! I insist on knowing what this allergen is.” After checking with the doctor, she said I had to come in so they could tell me. Luckily my boss let me leave work. After the nurse, the assistant, and my allergist had all looked at it, they told me it’s a T-cell reaction to dust. The 24-hour delay indicates a T-cell reaction.

This does matter! It is very important information! I had already noticed from my symptoms that I might be allergic to dust, but this explains why I sometimes had a delayed reaction to it. When a person knows she is allergic to dust, she can manage it by using an air purifier, wearing a dust mask to do housework, avoiding dusty situations, etc. My allergist’s office is part of one of the most respected medical centers in the country, but they routinely pass up opportunities to help their patients with non-IgE allergies by training their nurses to say “don’t worry about that, it doesn’t matter.” This needs to change!

I’m posting just two pages now, but there will be more. I plan to post some simple recipes and cooking suggestions for people who aren’t used to cooking their own meals, but may have to because of food allergies. I also plan to post some research and suggestions on the root cause of allergies.

Julia Baresch
August 2008

Thanks to my brother, Brian Baresch, for his help editing this site.
If you need to contact me, my info is in the Profile section.