An estimated 20% of the general population has some type of adverse reaction to food. Even more, over 55% of the population test positive to a chemical or environmental allergen. Is it possible to have an allergy and NOT even realize it?
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a substance it identifies as an invading organism. Foreign substances in the body are called antigens, which can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. These exposures provoke physical reactions designed to provide a defense against the invading substance. Food, chemical and environmental allergies demonstrate a variety of symptoms that can affect virtually every part of the body so that a person may experience weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, indigestion/reflux, chronic infections, chronic pain or mood disorders such as anxiety or depression.
Some people feel allergic whenever they cross paths with a cat, put on a sweater that hasn’t been worn in several months or step into a damp room on a rainy day. Allergies to animal dander, dust mites and mold are often as debilitating as the more well-known seasonal allergies from pollen, etc.
Allergy medicine has been the only way some people find relief. However, medications come with side effects and don’t treat the root issues. Herbs, detoxification, natural hormone therapy, acupuncture and diet changes can greatly decrease all types of allergies while addressing the underlying cause(s).
Certain foods can make you miserable even though you’re not allergic to them. If a food allergy has been ruled out, you may have a food intolerance, also called a food sensitivity. This is a food-induced adverse reaction that does not involve the immune system in the same way as a food allergy. Here is an example of an intolerance verses an allergy to milk.
|Food Intolerance||Food Allergy|
|Cause||Body lacks the enzyme lactase and can’t break down the sugar in milk (lactose)||Milk protein is the perpetrator|
|Body’s Reaction||Body can’t properly digest the lactose in the milk.||Milk protein is viewed as an allergen by the immune system and the body attacks it.|
|Antibodies produced||Immunoglobulin G, (IgG), production occurs several hours or days after exposure. This Type III delayed hypersensitivity reaction can persist for months to years after a single exposure.||Immunoglobulin E (IgE) production occurs immediately after exposure. Type 1 immediate hypersensitivity reaction disappears from the blood after a few days.|
Cause Body lacks the enzyme lactase and can’t break down the sugar in milk (lactose) Milk protein is the perpetrator
Body’s Reaction Body can’t properly digest the lactose in the milk. Milk protein is viewed as an allergen by the immune system and the body attacks it.
Antibodies produced Immunoglobulin G, (IgG), production occurs several hours or days after exposure. This Type III delayed hypersensitivity reaction can persist for months to years after a single exposure. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) production occurs immediately after exposure. Type 1 immediate hypersensitivity reaction disappears from the blood after a few days.
Although the mechanism is quite different between food intolerances and allergies, the consequences are both destructive and require the offending foods to be eliminated from the diet.
Potentially life threatening food allergies are usually immediate, occurring within minutes to a few hours of ingestion of the offending food. Some of these symptoms include swelling, diarrhea, raised bumps of the skin, wheezing and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. This type of allergy is rather easy to diagnose. However, sometimes food reactions can be delayed by days, weeks and even months following the exposure to the provoking food. This type of delayed allergy or intolerance is more difficult to diagnose because relating the reaction to the offending food is not obvious and so can be easily missed by doctors. Common symptoms of food intolerances include: gas and bloating, chronic cough, headaches, sinus problems, clearing the throat or sniffing after eating, loose stools and itchy skin.
The connection between the foods we eat and how we feel is stronger than most people realize. However, all too frequently, the symptoms from food allergies or intolerances are attributed to other things by the medical community and patients. Few physicians utilize advanced testing to identify food allergies and intolerances resulting in unnecessary prescriptions that suppress symptoms but don’t address the real issue. Left untreated, these allergies can manifest into more serious autoimmune and neurological disorders such as the following:
|Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Joint Pain & Swelling||Indigestion/Reflux||Arthritis||Headaches and Migraines||Infertility|
|Chronic Fatigue Syndrome||Celiac Disease||Chronic UTI||Chronic Cough||Anxiety|
|Chronic Vaginal Infections||Irritability and Depression||Weight gain and Obesity||Loose stool/diarrhea||Acne|
|Hyperactivity||Neurological Disease||Mental Fogginess||Autoimmune Disorders||Dermatitis|
|Sinus problems||Skin issues||Abdominal pain|
Leaky Gut Syndrome occurs when larger food particles and bacteria break through the GI barriers and get directly into the blood without being properly processed. This improper “breakthrough” or digestion leads to an attack by the immune system. Often the process starts with one or just a few foods that are the problem and “snowballs” such that more and more allergies to foods that a person once ate without an issue start to occur.
Merge Medical Center uses an integrated medicine model for patients from the Charleston area and beyond to diagnose and holistically treat allergies. We combine the following to provide alternatives to conventional approaches: