Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

When an allergy isn't an allergy

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Some time ago I mentioned briefly that the only way to diagnose food allergies correctly is to use skin prick tests and blood tests, and that even these methods have problems. I want to expand on the problems a bit more.

The problem with skin prick tests is they just measure the redness of the skin when a food or chemical has been applied to it. This means that if you are given a skin prick of something that stimulates a histamine release or contains histamine, your skin will respond by reddening. Skin prick tests can therefore be dangerously misleading.

For example, if you are sensitive to salicylates, you may respond with a reddening of the skin when high-salicylate plant foods (such as spinach, tea, asparagus) are tested on your skin.

Serotonin can also stimulate inflammation, so if you are sensitive to serotonin, you may experience the same thing from various foods such as cheese or bananas.

Sensitivity to histamine will obviously result in skin reddening when things like cheeses, fish, or aged meats are tested on the skin.

Sulphites, folate, and a number of other food chemicals, vitamins, and minerals stimulate histamine release. Lectins in wheat, beans, potatoes, and various other plant foods also stimulate histamine release. You may react to these chemicals if you have a particular weakness or sensitivity to them.

If you have high histamine levels to begin with and are prone to urticaria, you are likely to react to having your skin pricked in and of itself, whether food chemical irritants are added or not.

This means that you will be diagnosed with “allergies” to various random foods, when in fact you are not experiencing an allergic reaction at all, but food chemical intolerance.

We know from the RPAH and Food Intolerance Network that the majority of food reactions are actually caused by non-allergic food chemical sensitivities. The only way to correctly determine whether you have a genuine food allergy is to perform a specific, quantitative blood test of IgE levels when challenged. Immunoglobulin E is a subclass of antibodies produced by the immune system.

To complicate matters further, high histamine levels can actually raise IgE levels. This is why it is important to establish a baseline while one is not reacting to anything.

To clue you in to whether you are actually experiencing a genuine allergy or food chemical intolerance, an allergy will usually be distinct and to only one or rarely two foods. Food chemical sensitivities will usually appear as multiple positive skin prick test results from different species, genera, or family – such as a test with positives for peas, asparagus, and beef.

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Written by alienrobotgirl

17 May, 2006 at 8:35 pm

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