Could You Be Misdiagnosed with Allergies?

January 25, 2011

Allergies have become a mainstream health issue-not just because drug companies advertise for allergy medications to those affected by pollen every spring, but because we have all become aware of the food allergies of our neighbors and coworkers.

But do those allergies really exist?

Probably not. Some in the food allergy movement like to estimate that up to 30% of the population is afflicted–with allergies to wheat, soy, eggs, and dairy topping the list–when in reality only about 5% of children and 4% of adults are afflicted with food allergies (children will often grow out of allergies).

The New York Times reports the study, one of many in a series on food allergies.

Here’s the original study in The Journal of Allergy and  Clinical Immunology.

One reason allergies are so often misdiagnosed is that the most common test-the skin prick test-can give false positives, especially if an allergy has resolved itself.

Sometimes, tests aren’t even used, and information provided by a patient or parent of a bad reaction to something is relied on for diagnoses. Unfortunately, food born illness is very common, and symptoms may also be confused with an enzyme deficiency (as with lactose intolerance) or other gastrointestinal problems.

The only way to safely and certainly know if you have an allergy is with an oral challenge, where you eat the food in front of a doctor who is on stand-by to handle an adverse reaction. For those who have an allergy to nuts and shellfish, both of which can cause severe, deadly reactions (and affect only about .5% of the population), this is useful. It’s also useful for those who suffer severe reaction (anaphylactic shock).

For those who think they have a food allergy because of indigestion or other allergy symptoms, including hives, rashes, or gastrointestinal trouble-it may be better to ask your doctor to do an oral challenge, or to do an elimination diet, where you spend a week eating very basic foods (rice and veggies, for instance) and add foods back into your diet one week at a time, keeping track of how they make you feel. You may not discover allergies, but you may discover other dietary problems, many of which can likely be treated.

Also talk to your doctor about ruling out other problems-when you’re sick, for instance, your body may not make enzymes and digest as well as it could. Certain medications, like antibiotics, can cause trouble in the GI Tract as well.

If you eliminate certain foods or food groups from your diet, you leave yourself at risk for a nutrient deficiency. Make sure you use a daily multivitamin, protein powder, or other specific multivitamin to fill any gaps.

Colloids for Life offers a few products that may help:

Welltrient One is a daily multivitamin made up of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.

Vegan Protein Complete is a protein powder with all the essential and non-essential amino acids, and is made up of hemp, rice and peas. There is NO dairy and NO soy.

Digestive Trio is a three-pack made up digestive aids, including Flora (Probiotics, which protect the gut lining and aid digestion), Digest Aid+ (a digestive enzyme supplement), and Colon Clean+ (useful for cleansing out toxins, or when you switch diets to one free of allergens or other food sensitivities).

Do you have any experience with Allergy diagnoses? Did you have an allergy when you were little that you grew out of–how did you discover you grew out of it? Share with us in the comments!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: