What causes my reaction to foods?

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Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2013 10:16 am

by Valentijn on Fri Aug 16, 2013 1:14 pm

What causes my reaction to foods?

I didn't have any food problems prior to getting sick, aside from mangoes. But now if I eat gluten, eggs, cranberries, soy, milk proteins, or some other things, I seem to have some sort of immune reaction.

Usually it's full-body swelling, which typically lasts about a day after eating the "bad" food. This is very noticeable, and one doctor referred to it as "non-pitting soft tissue swelling". Before I discovered the cranberry problem (which I ate for 30 years with no problem!), I had started eating them daily in salads and was so swollen that it hurt to have my legs up on the couch due to the pressure it was putting on my legs.

I've been tested for typical allergies, and don't have them to the foods which were tested (including gluten, eggs, soy, and dairy), so I'm wondering what could be going on to cause these problems.

To make things more interesting, I initially just reacted to egg whites, not egg yolks, but eventually started reacting to egg yolks as well. Except instead of full body swelling, I would just have intense back pain for an hour or so.

So I guess I have multiple questions:
1) What's happening to cause these reactions to food which I'm not properly allergic to?
2) Is there something I can do to avoid these reactions? I REALLY miss eggs and wheat! :D
3) Is there a way to stop more reactions from developing over time?

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Sue Luscombe
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:19 am

by Sue Luscombe on Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:32 pm

Re: What causes my reaction to foods?


What you describe are not typical symptoms of CFS/ME. From your comments and concerns do speak more with your doctor about further investigations and referral to an allergy specialist, if you think you are having immune reactions. To keep a food and symptom diary is often helpful in providing more detailed information about your food reactions. Kept over a month this can either see patterns more easily or find there are no patterns, which also has value. Also taking photos of your reactions to show to your doctor can be helpful.

If you are avoiding foods like wheat/gluten and egg and finding this hard, a referral to a dietitian will help give you recipe ideas and other grain alternatives for meal times. They can also check that you are getting a nutritionally adequate diet as many who cut out staple foods find they tend to lose weight. This can be unwelcome and unhelpful.

There are theories as to why the prevalence of reported food reactions are increasing but not enough answers yet. We do know that CFS/ME affects the immune system but as with too many aspects, have very limited understanding why.

The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has classified food reactions in a way that differentiates with how they react in your body. You may find this helpful:

1. Immune (IgE) mediated Food allergy. This is the rapid onset type, which can cause anaphylaxis. Diagnosis is by a comprehensive clinical history supported by tests such as blood IgE, (immunoglobulin E), levels and skin prick tests. It is relatively easy to make a formal diagnosis. The medical specialists have quite a good understanding of the complex cascade of reactions involved. Severe IgE food allergy can be life threatening and total exclusion of the food allergen is essential.

2. Non immune (IgE) mediated food allergy. There is poorer understanding of what happens when the allergy is more delayed and does not involve the production of IgE antibodies. There is currently no internationally accepted diagnostic test for this type of allergy and therefore makes a diagnosis is harder. The only way is a trial exclusion of the suspect food followed by its reintroduction. So if you had a non IgE mediated food allergy for egg this would not be picked up with an IgE blood test.

3. Food hypersensitivities, commonly also called food intolerance.
There are many different types of food intolerances, including enzymatic and pharmacologic reactions. Pharmacological intolerances involve reactions to certain naturally occurring substances in foods such as vaso active amines - of which histamine is one example; salicylates - substances chemically similar to aspirin found in a wide variety of plant foods; and caffeine or theobromine - found in chocolate.
The most common type of enzymatic food intolerance is lactose intolerance, which occurs when you either have too little or no lactase - the enzyme which helps to digest milk sugar lactose. However, there are many food intolerances with unknown mechanisms such as intolerance to food additives.
Sue Luscombe
Specialist Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant - R.D.

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