Hi there, my name is Kate. I'm a 24 year old single mom, and just graduated as an art educator.
Two years ago I woke up sick. I've been healthy my whole life, and after two months of not getting better, I went against all of the holistic health training I've had and subjected myself to allergy testing. Suddenly, I have anaphalactic sulfa and msg allergies. I'm allergic to ragweed to the point that I cannot leave the house from August to November, and I'm allergic to tape. Yes. Tape. Not latex. Just tape.
Now I have a suspected peanut allergy. I've been sick since February 22. I've had 8 different medications. They keep telling me I'm not allergic to peanuts, but when I eat a peanut butter sandwhich, my whole face plugs up with mucous and I'm sick for days after.
I can't eat out. I can't go outdoors most of the time. And now grocery stores are a personal hell. Needless to say, I'm feeling pretty darn depressed. Does anyone have some coping ideas? I know it sounds kind of juvenile, but I'm really active, and I feel bad that I can't take my kid outdoors, and our kitchen is full of flavorless organic allergy-free foods.
By kate2005 on Mar 29, 2009
I can't thank you enough for the supportive response. All of my friends and family say I'm over-reacting and telling me it's not the end of the world...with a Dunkin Donut coffee in one hand. Grrr. I'm going to check out those sites. Right now I'm going to an allergist and am going to talk more about options.
And in the meantime, I'm going to whole foods to buy an allergen free cookie.
Thanks again :)
By BestAllergySites on Mar 29, 2009
Hi Kate, just wanted to write to send you a hug and well wishes. Living with allergies can be more than difficult but it can and will get better.
Are you seeing a certified allergist? A good one is worth more than his or her weight in gold.
Also, what sort of allergy testing did you have done? As I am sure you know, they are not always 100% accurate. One should take skin prick testing, blood testing (RAST), and history of reaction into account.
I'm not an allergist but would say to stay away from any foods that cause a reaction until you can get a firm idea from your allergist.
Regarding coping-there are many online forums like this one that help when you want to vent or just need support. There are also in person support groups. AAFA (Asthma Allergy Foundation of America) runs them-you'd have to look at their website to see if there is one near you.
Try to take a break if you can and do something for yourself. Even if it's just a bath or quick shopping trip..a movie..just something for you and not your kids or your family.
I promise-when you are able to get a handle on things-what you are allergic to-etc. things will feel and get better. I know it's tough now. Hang in there!
By doofusclo on Apr 2, 2009
You know you mention ragweed problem that sounds very serious. I am going to try to send a link on an interesting study you might be interested in.
The studies always give me hope. I know they are a ways off from being real relief, but they help me.
There are also brave folks who occasionally visit the site involved in food allergy studies.
You might always have allergies, but I think there will be much better ways of handling them in the next few years.
By doofusclo on Apr 2, 2009
Shot I didn't post that link right. You might be able to cut and paste it. Here is the text of the webmd article:
Allergy sufferers got at least two ragweed seasons of relief after only six weekly shots of an experimental vaccine.
The finding comes from a small clinical trial conducted at Johns Hopkins University. The trial tested a new kind of allergy vaccine in 25 people with ragweed allergy -- also known as fall hay fever.
The proof-of-concept study was too small to prove anything. But the results so far have study leader Peter S. Creticos, MD, brimming with enthusiasm.
"For many of these people, we have wiped out the disease of ragweed allergy; it is a cure, but we don't know how long that cure will last," Creticos tells WebMD. "These people will throw away their allergy medicines during August, September, and October when hay fever is driven by ragweed. And if this works for ragweed, there is no reason why it can't work for other allergiesallergies."
Creticos is medical director of the Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy Center. He has in the past received consulting fees and grant support from Dynavax Technologies, the vaccine manufacturer. However, the current study was sponsored by the Immune Tolerance Network, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health.
The study appears in the Oct. 5 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Vaccine Turns Allergy Off
When the body encounters a harmless foreign substance, it is supposed to get rid of it with appropriate, protective immune responses. Allergies happen when a substance -- an allergen -- sets off an allergic reaction instead of a protective immune response.
If that were the end of it, allergy wouldn't be such a big deal. But for many sufferers, the allergic process becomes a persistent, whole-body immune response that results in swelling, itching, sneezing, dripping, and/or wheezingwheezing.
The experimental allergy vaccine takes advantage of a trick scientists learned from bacteria. Bacteria carry a specific DNA segment that triggers a specific kind of immune response in humans. This immune response shuts down allergy-type immune responses and triggers protective immune responses.
The Dynavax vaccine links a ragweed particle to this bacterial DNA sequence. It's supposed to make the immune system of a person with ragweed allergy act just like the immune system of a person without ragweed allergy, says David Broide, MD, of the University of California, San Diego. Broide, one of the study investigators, is a senior advisor to the Immune Tolerance Network.
"When this vaccine is injected into a patient, the immune system sees the ragweed component not as ragweed allergen but as bacteria," Broide tells WebMD. "It calls up the protective immune response instead of the allergic response. So the immune response is being fooled into making the correct response." Experimental Vaccine vs. Traditional Allergy Shots
Creticos and colleagues originally enrolled 25 people with ragweed allergy in their study. Half got the ragweed allergy vaccine -- one shot a week for six weeks, with gradually increasing amounts of ragweed allergen -- and half got fake injections.
Six shots sound like a lot -- unless you've ever taken allergy shots. These shots are simply tiny doses of whatever it is you are allergic to, given in weekly and then monthly doses over four or five years. The idea is to gradually train the immune system to tolerate the allergen. This treatment works. But it is very inconvenient and, while it's considered safe, still carries a risk of serious allergic reactions.
"Most people just can't deal with four or five years of shots -- and some stay on the treatment for six to 10 years," Creticos says. "The vaccine is a way to reach a markedly greater percentage of people whom we have not been able to reach due to fear of reactions."
Fifteen subjects, nine in the placebo group and six in the vaccine group, completed both years of the vaccine study. Fewer Allergy Symptoms
After getting the shots, the patients who received the vaccine reported about 60% fewer allergy symptoms than those who got fake shots. At the peak of the second ragweed season, those who got the vaccine didn't need any antihistamines or decongestants.
"The results are very impressive in terms of the amount of relief of allergy symptoms patients got with just six injections, with no side effects -- and it lasted for two years," Broide says. "One needs to be realistic, however, and make sure this holds up in larger studies with more patients."
Creticos and colleagues currently are enrolling patients with ragweed-related asthmaasthma in a larger study. Eventually they hope to move to the kinds of clinical trial that lead to FDA approval.
"This is still several years into the future," Broide says. "Meanwhile, current immunotherapy is still very effective and safe. Patients should continue with their allergy injections."
While the current vaccine is formulated with ragweed allergen, Creticos says that it should work with other allergens. He expects that future studies will test vaccines against grass, dust mite, and cat allergiesallergies.
By Food Allergy Assistant on Apr 3, 2009
Hang in there, Kate! Something in your system is out of whack and finding the right doctor for you is the key. Keep asking questions- not so easy when you feel lousy!
Keep us posted!