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mat_london

Gluten Intolerance And Hives

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I seem to have some kind of gluten allergy which produces hives/urticaria but I have tested negative for a standard gluten blood test.

I have not pinned down exactly what food type I am allergic to but bread definitely induces a reaction and so do breadcrumbs. White bread and supermarket bread seem to be worst. Pasta strangely does not seem to induce it, possibly because there is less gluten in it or it has been de-natured by boiling. It is complicated because the strength of the reaction is related to physical activity. I have learnt that if I sit completely still my reaction is milder and passes more quickly but if I am physically active for example playing football it gets significantly worse and develops into full blown anaphalaxis complete with breathing difficulties, loss of vision and sometimes physical collapse. It always starts with intense itching and welts / hives developing all over my body, especially in places which are under pressue e.g. around my trouser belt and legs, but also all over my chest and other areas. Luckily the reaction disappears completely within a short time, between 1 and 3 hours depending on how bad it got. I thought until recently that I had "excercise induced anaphalxis" which is a recognised condition but I now think that food and particularly gluten are involved. If I play football without eating anything in the previous 4 hours I am fine.

I am 52 years old and this response developed fairly recently within the last few years. I was able to consume huge amounts of bread earlier in life without any problem. I definitely have Coeliac syndrome in my family. My grandmother was confirmed with it late in life and I also have 2 sisters who are confirmed coeliacs. I think my mother is also but she never wanted to find out. But I got a negative result in a standard coeliac blood test and I don't seem to have the other common long term coeliac problems.

Does anyone have a similar condition or have any advice on this? (apart from go and see an allergist!)

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You know I ALWAYS broke out in hives as a child. I still do at least 3 times a week. We have never been able to pinpoint a cause but I bet it could be the gluten. :)

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Oh Mat, I also have suffered from exercise induced hives, but not quite as bad as yours. My hives (big gigantic welts) are mostly on my thighs and rear-end and like yours much worse at pressure points. For me they occur mainly in the cold weather. Any kind of exercise will make them come out, even simple walking, but I have no problem with snow shoveling, probably because I am not moving my legs fast enough. Stopping whatever I am doing is the only thing that will make them go away. Increasing whatever I am doing makes things much worse. The only time I started running after developing the hives (because I wanted to get home FAST) they got much worse, it was difficult to breath and I got very nauseated, but I did not develop anaphylaxis.

I have heard that there is usually a trigger food for this, and oddly enough it is often celery. (I hardly ever eat celery). I've also heard one must both ingest the food and do the exercise in order for the allergic reaction to occur. Without both of those it won't happen. This has been happening to me since I was a teenager and I am now in my late 50's. I never attributed it to food until I gave up gluten 2+ years ago. Lo and behold, I found that I now rarely get hives when walking in the cold. Co-incidence? Could be but I doubt it. The only celiac test I have had is for dermatitis herpetiforms (this rash was totally unrelated to my hives) and for that I tested negative.

I don't think this would be considered celiac but moreso an allergy to wheat but like celiac the only solution is to stop eating it. I do have an allergist and told her about it - the only solution she had was to take an anti-histamine before exercising. She didn't seem to be interested in persuing it any further or giving me any allergy testing.

It's not a real common problem I've found, people look at me like I am nuts when I tell them I'm allergic to exercise. However, there is some good info on the web about it. I did a lot of research about 4-5 years ago when I found out so many in my family have this (between my siblings and all of our kids close to 3/4's of us have this).

Jane

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