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darkhorse

Are Allergy Tests Worth It?

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I am thinking about getting allergy tests done to see if I have an allergy to wheat and dairy since I came back negative on the celiac tests. Here's my random train of thought on why I'm thinking about it.

I have seasonal allergies and one of them is grass but I don't really care about it since seasonal allergies are pretty typical and my symptoms aren't bad.

I also know that I am having a very mild reaction to a food item that is in both chili and enchiladas. I get mild chest/throat congestion immediately after eating these meals that makes me cough a little and have to clear my throat a bunch of times. I'm thinking it might be chili powder or cumin or some other kind of spice that would be in both dishes because I have eaten the other ingredients in different meals and don't have that reaction. Unfortunately the chili is store bought so I don't know all the ingredients.

I also can't have immunizations because I had a very bad reaction to the ones I got when I was five (MMR). The doctor thought it was an allergic reaction and told me not to have immunizations anymore, but I was never tested. Oh, and I am not allergic to eggs as far as I know. But again, I've never been tested.

My GI doctor was content that the diet was working but he did suggest allergy testing if I was interested. I'm not a huge doctor fan and I am pretty sick of testing since I just finished with celiac tests so I declined. But now I am second guessing that since I have been noticing small reactions to food here and there that I am certain is not CC, like the congestion. Some of the reactions are stomach related and I almost worry about CC, but the symptoms don't last very long. I think I may not have noticed them before since the gluten and dairy were causing so many problems.

Like for example, here are the symptoms I am noticing. I have had bad acne on my back for years and it almost completely disappeared on the Gluten-free Casein-free diet, but I still have a little bit that just won't seem to go away. I get bloating after almost every meal but it goes away within a few hours. Certain meals cause stomach pain similar to being glutened, but again, it goes away after an hour or so after eating. My joints are really achy and they have not improved on the diet, although I am still hopeful that it will. I also get sore muscles a lot easier than I ever used to. I still have memory and recall issues such as, I'm a teacher and I just could not think of the word "charter school" today. I am constantly searching for a word that I should know. Again, I'm hoping that will improve with the Gluten-free Casein-free diet as well.

After my rambling my question is whether getting an allergy test would be worth it. Was it worthwhile for you or tell you something that helped? I have looked it up a little and most sites say that you need to be looking for something specific otherwise you can get false positives. But I don't really know what I am looking for other than the gluten and dairy. What do they normally test for? Should I try to narrow things down beforehand, or should I just dismiss the idea? I'm also a big baby and am curious if it hurts. I also know that allergy testing won't show food sensitivities that can induce many of these symptoms as well. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

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Hi. Allergies and intolerances are not the same. Allergies trigger a histamine response which usually results in a very pronounced reaction - eyes, mouth, tongue swelling, breathing can be affected, acute rashes, whatever, but usually very definitive.

Intolerances though can manifest in many different ways. Things like congestion/mucous are usually down to intolerances rather than allergies.

Allergy tests will not show up intolerances. Gluten and/or dairy intolerance will not show up on an allergy test. You can have one done by all means but whether it is worth it is really up to you at the end of the day.

The best way of knowing your intolerances is to be aware of your reaction to foods. If you are eating lots of different things then it can be difficult to pinpoint what it is you are reacting to, and that is where an elimination type diet comes into its own.

You start with a few basic foods and then gradually introduce other foods one at a time and watch for your reaction to them. It also helps to remove processed foods from your diet and concentrate on pure natural foods so that you are not confusing your body with lots of additives and stuff.

Some people find that foods in the nightshade family like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants (aubergines) seem to affect their joints and/or muscles so that is worth watching for. You very often have to omit them for some while though before you see a benefit.

Another thing that a natural diet does, whether Elimination, Paleo, Specific Carbohydrate (SCD) or otherwise, because they remove the foods that challenge the digestion such as grains, starches, sugar and processed stuff, is that they help the gut, the liver and ultimately the body heal. Some find then that they no longer react to the different foods. If the liver is clogged with accumulated toxins that it cannot eliminate then it cannot process the food properly.

Things like acne can be a sign that your body is having to use outlets other than the digestive route to try and eliminate toxins from your body. We clean our cars and our houses but how many of us think about spring-cleaning our bodies? A body that can clean itself efficiently is a healthy body. Removing the gluten and dairy has undoubtedly helped as it will have removed the main source of the toxins.

You are right that the reactions you were getting from the gluten and dairy were probably masking the other reactions. They become apparent when the biggest culprits are removed. Whilst gluten and dairy are problematic in themselves - wheat contains a lot more gluten now than it did originally which has made it hard for our bodies to deal with, and the pasteurization and homogenization of dairy has rendered that problematic too, it is not necessarily the other foods that are at fault (unless they have been chemically adulterated with lots of '-cides or '-izers''), but in our bodies' inability to deal with them.

Many of us are living in a time (and in a culture) when it is very difficult to find food that has not been mucked about with in some way or other, and it is having a detrimental effect on us all.

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Thanks for your thoughts on this. I keep going back and forth on the allergy testing idea. I agree that it may be sensitivities or intolerances that are causing these symptoms. I'm also worried about the high rate of false positives/negatives that allergy testing would give.

Looking into my food patterns had brought me to the conclusion that it is nightshades that are causing my problems. I am almost certain that it is chili powder that is causing the congestion/mucous after eating. I also eat lots of tomatoes in many meals. I was actually pretty upset because I am really working at removing processed foods and additives and going to a more natural diet. I made a great chicken soup completely from scratch using organic meat and mostly organic produce. But I had a GI response to the soup regardless. When going back through the things I had been eating that were causing GI problems I found that anything that contained tomatoes was a problem. I had even put tomatoes in the homemade soup.

I also think (haven't really been able to test) that potatoes are causing mild GI issues as well. And then of course I have the joint pain that just won't let up. It started with my knees, but has now moved to my ankles, elbows and back. I was very sad to see that nightshades often have to be avoided by people with arthritis because they cause inflammation...

But then I also started to find information on Leaky Gut syndrome which led me to Candida. Do you think leaky gut and or Candida could cause me to have problems with all these foods? I mostly would like to "get over" this nightshade issue. I really don't mind the no gluten/dairy as I have come to terms with that and feel very comfortable with the thought of never eating them again. But tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers are foods that my husband and I eat all the time. I almost feel like someone must be playing a cruel joke because bread and cheese were my two favorite foods, followed very closely by tomato products and chilies. I LOVE spicy food and we use cayenne as a flavoring as often as you would salt. Although I have heard that it is the foods that you eat the most of that can become intolerances so I guess it is no surprise there.

I have started to read up on the SCD and I am very interested in that diet. Do you think it is possible for the SCD to heal my leaky gut issues so that I could eat nightshades again without issue. If so, how long would I need to be on the SCD for this to happen? Like I said I really don't care about the gluten and dairy, but the loss of the nightshades is really upsetting.

Again, thanks for listening and any thoughts would be appreciated.

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It was worth it for me. I had always considered carrots as one of my safe foods. I reacted to celery in the food allergy testing. And using the elimination diet, I found that I am reacting to that whole plant family. It would have taken me a long time to figure that out on my own.

Also when I suddenly became unable to digest dairy I tried replacing dairy with soy but I was still very ill. I didn't know if I was mistaken about the dairy or if something else altogether was going on. The allergy test showed that I was allergic to both dairy protein and soy.

and sweet potatoes ....and wheat.....and brewers yeast.... and after removing all of those items from my diet I was still reacting to barley malt with all those now familiar celiac - gluten responses ........ which led to my diagnosis.

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I think when we are at the worst stages of the gut damage that we can react to all sorts of things. When my digestion collapsed there was little I could eat without some kind of reaction - even the Intro staple of the SCD chicken soup was causing me problems so I had to back off that and go with turkey and fish. I had problems with eggs and other SCD 'legal' foods but eventually the intolerances gradually faded.

I now recognise when I have had something that my body is not happy with.

It is possible that the nightshades are causing the joint problems, but another possibility is an over-acidic body. I have a not too irrational theory that if the fluids in the joints are too acid the body will draw calcium from other areas to try and buffer it and that may possibly trigger calcific nodules leading to joint pain. It is only a theory but I know that when my body is more alkaline, I don't get anything like the problems with my joints.

It could be that because foods like tomato adds to acidity they can exacerbate the pains. Perhaps if the tomato is consumed into an alkaline body it would not have the same effect.

Eating plenty of green veg, especially raw can help to alkalize the body, as too, strangely, can citrus fruits like lemons and limes. As diets like the SCD tend to focus on fresh foods rather than highly acidifying grains, starches and dairy then it is quite possible for the diet to help with different intolerances.

I can only speak from my own experience but I know it has helped me immensely and I can now tolerate virtually all SCD 'legals' without any problems. Although it is still around, I also have less problems with Candida and other fungus/yeasts too - it is such a relief to not have to wash my hair every other day as I used to or have to put up with the ragingly itchy scalp, to no longer have smelly feet and athlete's foot or jock-itch, etc. The fact that that has gone is a sure sign that it is a lot better on the inside too.

I am no longer a 'fungus-factory'! :P

Testing may or may not help - it can be a bit hit or miss. Some find it helps, others feel that it has been pointless as the tests do not always seem to be very accurate - but perhaps that may depend on how they are done. They only really tell you too how your body is reacting at that particular time. Perhaps next week you may be reacting to yet more foods not listed.

Give the body the tools for recovery though, and there is always the possibility you may be able to wave goodbye to many of your intolerances. Personally, I would never recommend going back to the high-carb, high-sugar, highly-processed and very damaging 'Western' diet again though - wherever that goes, illness and disease seems to be hard on its heels.

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