November 10, 2013

Update of Non-IgE Egg Allergy and the Flu Shot

Two years ago I posted about my non-IgE egg allergy symptoms from my first annual flu shot. Symptoms from my second shot in 2012 were not as bad. I got my 2013 shot on Friday Nov. 1st and the symptoms were as bad as in 2011.

As in 2011, beginning 2-3 hours after the shot I got very bothersome sinus pain, some chest pressure, and some achiness. The sinus pain finally cleared up late morning on Monday. Monday afternoon could feel the pressure clearing out and thought that would be the end of it.

However, Tuesday I had very bothersome fatigue and fuzziness around my sinuses. Why did this feel so familiar? Oh yes, it's an egg symptom. I used to get this frequently before I figured out I'm allergic to egg, and I got it from the flu shot in 2011 but not in 2012. When it happens, the fatigue and fuzzy sinuses last about a full day, and the fatigue clears up gradually the next day.

The sinus pain is so bothersome I wonder if I should have gotten a medical exemption instead of beginning the flu shots, but I was concerned about catching the flu from patients and visitors in the hospital I work at. As I mentioned in another post, I wasn't able to get the new egg-free flu shot this year. I hope I can next year!

Julia Baresch

November 3, 2013

Flu shot not dangerous for egg-allergic? Let's think for ourselves.

Introduction post

I saw a news article saying there is now an egg-free flu vaccine. Yay! Now I won't get sick from my non-IgE egg allergy when I get the flu shot required for my job.

Turns out it's not so easy. The distributor of the shot is taking orders but it hasn't shipped yet, and I didn't find a provider who will get it and give it to me. My primary offered to let me order a package of 5-10 vaccines, but it is too expensive.

When I talked to my allergist she said they don't have the egg-free vaccine because the regular vaccine is safe for people, including children, who have severe IgE egg allergy. I said that can't be safe and she said it's been well studied.

I looked it up and found this Medicine Net article that says thousands of egg-allergic children have been studied and tolerated the vaccine with no reaction.
And here is the recently published study referred to in the Medicine Net article. 112 severely egg-allergic children were administered the vaccine and showed no allergic reaction.
This is a time for us patients and those with allergic children to think for ourselves. No matter how many studies there are, I will never believe there is no risk to a person with severe IgE egg allergy. It's common sense! The risk may be rare, as it says in the Medicine Net article. But there is a risk.

If I had severe IgE egg allergy, I would not get the flu shot. But if I did want one for myself or a child with severe egg allergy, I would insist on getting it from an allergist and having them observe us for at least 30 minutes in case of a reaction. If the allergist did not agree to that, I would find one who did.

I have non-IgE egg allergy and do in fact get symptoms from the flu shot. In 2011, I had symptoms for 3 days. In 2012, 1 and 1/2 days. This year is worse than last year. I got the regular shot two days ago and the symptoms haven't cleared up yet. Looks like it will be at least 3 days. I think weather may be a factor. It was damp and cloudy when I got the shot and I get symptoms in that weather anyway.

The allergy establishment does not address non-IgE allergies at all. They didn't acknowledge the existence of them until 2009. They don't teach medical students about non-IgE allergies. MDs, including allergists, are not trained to understand or treat them. Those who are interested in non-IgE allergies learn about it independently.
If I had waited for the allergy establishment to address my symptoms instead of figuring out my own non-IgE food allergies and learning about them from others in the medical field, I would have had a miserable life of illness. How long before they accept and begin using information and diagnostic tools that have been available for decades?

I wish they would at least mention non-IgE allergies in medical school so I could stop explaining the term "non-IgE allergy" to every MD and nurse I talk to. My allergist and my primary doctor are the only ones I can discuss this with.because they are smart, receptive, understand my history and respect what I've learned about my non-IgE allergies.

Thank you,
Julia Baresch

September 2, 2013

Is yeast a culprit?

Introduction post 

Someone I know used to get 2- and 3-day headaches whenever a storm came in. In this climate that means at least 2 or 3 times a month through spring, summer and early fall. I also got symptoms from storms, but not as bad as hers. Last winter she read a book by someone who believes wheat is bad for people because it's been cross-bred and hybridized since the early 1900's, and she stopped eating wheat products.
A few weeks later, in February, a very low-pressure, very damp storm came in and I wasn't feeling well. I asked her if she had a headache and she said no, she felt fine. She said she had stopped all wheat products except breaded items like fried chicken. She hadn't had any bread. She was yeast-free.
I was so impressed I decided to try avoiding yeast and stopped eating yeast breads. I found that many crackers also contain yeast. I ate yeast-free crackers and corn pasta. After I few weeks I began eating wheat pasta again with no ill effect except it seems harder to digest than rice, my other starch. (I recently learned that wheat and white flour contain chains of fructose molecules, and sugars upset my stomach. So now I'm trying a wheat-free diet.)
I've noticed a big difference with my yeast-free diet! My sinus symptoms improved by about 70 - 80% and my sensitive stomach got a bit better. The nagging sinus pain I've had frequently all my life is almost gone - I've only had it a few times since February.
With summer and hot humid weather I noticed sinus pressure and pain from mold allergy, but not as bad as usual. So far it's 70 - 80% less than when I was eating yeast. And now that it's ragweed season that percentage is holding - I notice symptoms from the ragweed but much better than before.
Is it too much of a coincidence that both I and someone I happen to know would be allergic to yeast? Is there some other mechanism involved in this? Is it a common reaction? How could we tell when every American eats yeast bread every day from babyhood? Any reaction would seem normal and the symptoms attributed to other causes, like my mold allergy.
I'd like to find out. So far I've learned the same yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is used in both bread and beer.
Back in the day I used to get sinus pressure after drinking beer. I eventually stopped and since there are no ingredient labels on alcoholic beverages I couldn't determine the cause. Now it seems it may have been the yeast. I've known others who got symptoms from beer - they could try avoiding yeast and see what happens.
S. cerevisiae a unique organism with a structure unlike that of other yeasts or of any known organism.
Antibodies against S. cerevisiae are found in 60–70% of patients with Crohn's disease and 10–15% of patients with ulcerative colitis (and 8% of healthy controls). 

A specific antibody to S. cerevisiae is ASCA, a marker of intestinal inflammation. It is elevated in certain schizophrenic populations.

  • I wonder if it's elevated in other populations, such as those of us with allergies?

  • A concentrated dose of S. cerevisiae modulates immune system response involving T-cells and Natural Killer cells (lymphocytes)

  • A 6-year-old boy had allergic reactions only to fresh-baked bread and pizza (yeast in the pizza crust).

  • Commercial breadmakers add cysteine to bread to have it rise in ten to twenty minutes instead of three to four hours.
    Does the cysteine do something to change the way our immune systems respond to the yeast? I don't have time to make homemade bread and try it. It would be interesting to see if a person who gets symptoms from commercial yeast products gets symptoms from homemade bread made with unaccelerated yeast. 
    I'm so happy with the big improvement in my symtoms! Wheat and yeast are relatively easy to avoid, unlike my other allergens. I'm hoping to learn more, and I hope this preliminary information is helpful.
    Julia Baresch

    September 1, 2013

    Dairy in guacamole

    Introduction post

    A few months ago I was eating at a Mexican restaurant and asked for my food with no dairy. Then I asked for guacamole and the very smart, very alert server told me they put milk in their guacamole. What? That's insane!
    He explained that they put a little milk in it to keep it from turning black. The chefs apparently didn't know that leaving the avocado pits in it will keep it from turning black. I've seen guacamole with pits sit outdoors for hours on a warm summer afternoon without turning black, so I know this works. And it doesn't endanger people with dairy allergy! Or lactose intolerance.
    I'm sure dairy is the last thing most people expect in guacamole. It usually contains avocados, onions, peppers, and salt. Some add tomatoes or other vegetables. But milk? That's crazy! Since people don't expect milk in guacamole they might not refrigerate it, which could cause food poisoning.
    This is discouraging because I had thought it was one of the few foods I could count on to be free of my allergens of soy, dairy, egg and sugar.
    A few weeks later I was at another restaurant and the guacamole they brought me was smooth and flecked with green herbs. It turned out to be made of avocados and sour cream. A better name for this would be avocado spread or dip.
    Let's try to stop this craziness from spreading. If you work in a restaurant or food preparation, please don't contaminate the guacamole with dairy! If it contains avocados but isn't guacamole, please don't call it that. :p
    Thank you,
    Julia :-)