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Food Testing

           

            Many of the patients I see have allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to foods.  In fact, foods are a major cause of such symptoms as:

  •  severe fatigue, muscle aches and joint pain

  •   sinus congestion, runny or stuffy nose, frequent ear or sinus infections and chronic sinusitis

  •   spaciness, brain fog

  •   inability to think clearly

  •  memory loss

  •  lack of motivation

  •  lethargy, depression

  •   intestinal symptoms of all kinds (including irritable bowel syndrome, esophageal reflux, heartburn, gastritis, diarrhea,  constipation, abdominal discomfort, bloating, gas and others)

  •   headaches, "migraine"

  •  coughing, chronic bronchial irritation, chronic bronchitis

  •  many, many, MANY others

            How do I know this?  One reason is because these are the most frequent food-related symptoms my patients have.  The other is that some of these were my major symptoms before I was treated.

            Fatigue is probably the most common symptom my patients have, and foods are usually the primary cause.  Of all foods, I'd have to say wheat is the most common denominator of fatigue.  Certainly other things can cause fatigue, but in my practice, I now bet my money on foods first. In reality, most patients feel much better if they stop eating wheat completely.

            There is some confusion when it comes to food "allergy", partly because there are basically two types of food "allergy":

  IgE-mediated.  IgE antibodies are produced accidentally in the body as a result of mistaken sensitization to an allergen. These antibodies attach to cells that release inflammatory mediators and "recognize" an allergen (e.g. nuts, strawberries, shrimp, etc.).  Once the allergen appears in the bloodstream again, the attached IgE signals the cells to which they are attached to produce inflammatory mediators, such as histamine, and this causes a cascade of events that can be unpleasant or even fatal.  This is an immediate true allergic reaction to a food.  Symptoms commonly occur within minutes of eating a food and consist of hives (urticaria), swelling of the lips, face or eyes (angioedema) or difficulty breathing.  The latter reaction can be fatal if not treated immediately.  Common foods that can cause this are shrimp and nuts.  About 4-5% of patients with food sensitization have this type of food allergy.

Note: LDA Immunotherapy is the only viable and safe treatment for anaphylaxis due to peanut (peanut allergy).

  Non-IgE-mediated.  This is the "other" kind of food reaction, and is not a true allergy, but rather more a food "sensitivity" or "intolerance".  These types of  reactions are usually delayed and may occur hours or even 2-3 days after eating a food.  Common symptoms are those listed above.  Most any food can cause these types of problems, but dairy, wheat and sugar are often responsible.  About 95% of patients with food "allergy" have these types of symptoms and this type of food reaction.

These types of food allergy are caused by mechanisms other than the IgE type, most of which are not well understood.  There are certainly cellular mechanisms at work (T-cells) and other antibodies (IgA, IgG) may be associated.  All allergies to foods that are not associated with IgE are, by definition, "non-IgE".

As you might guess, both patients and physicians easily recognize true food allergy (IgE mediated) because it is usually immediate and occurs every time a specific type of food is eaten, such as shellfish.  It doesn't take too many times of having anaphalyxis or hives for a patient to make a food association and avoid that food!

On the other hand, non-IgE-mediated food allergy does not occur immediately (although it may), and is both quantitative and qualitative.  A patient may have to eat a certain amount of a food to cause a reaction, or may have to eat a food a few days in a row, or they may have to eat certain foods in combination to have symptoms. Generally, patients with this type of allergy have good days and bad days, depending on what they are eating, but it's difficult to make an association with a specific food because it may have been eaten a day or two before symptoms occurred.  You can see why it is far more difficult to pin these types of foods down.  Furthermore, patients can have a combination of IgE-mediated and non-IgE-mediated food allergy.

One of the major advantages of LDA immunotherapy over other methods of treatment is that is T-cell based.  Since T-cells ("helpers") are responsible for delayed reactions to foods and many other allergens, once this abnormality is addressed by LDA by way of proper T-regulator cells, food allergy, sensitivity and intolerance can be effectively treated.

It is critical for you to know that LDA is the only realistic and safe treatment for patients who have anaphylaxis to peanut or shrimp. It can save dozens of lives yearly.


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Copyright 2005 Santa Fe Center for Allergy and Environmental Medicine
Last modified: November 8, 2013