Asthma and Allergies: Not Just Peanuts and Bee Stings

To kick off June's blog entries, let's start with some food allergy basics:

• Allergies aren't just immediate reactions to things like peanuts and bee stings.

• There are two main food allergy distinctions- IgE, and non IgE (IgA and IgG).

• The most common food allergies are IgA and IgG.

• Food allergies are generally acquired due to exposure, not genetics.

The table below is extremely helpful in understanding food allergy basics: 

IgE

Non-IgE (IgA and IgG)

Fast response (few minutes)

Slower response (2 hours-72 hours), sometimes take years for symptoms to manifest

Strong response

Weaker response

Similar physiological response in most people

Varied physiological response in most people

“fixed”- do not change during our lifetime

Can evolve at any age

Analogous to immune system “blow-torch”: instant, acute, powerful

Analogous to immune system “sand paper”: delayed, slowly damaging

Immune system response to a protein found in digestive system that is perceived as foreign object

Immune system response to a protein found in digestive system that is perceived as foreign object

Asthma attacks can be terrifying: hives, rash, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea followed by coughing and wheezing. If not caught quickly, the throat may swell and cut off the airway (anaphylaxis). We often associate these acute reactions with instant triggers such as peanuts or bee stings. However, there are two different kinds of asthma: 1) immediate asthma and 2) delayed, or chronic, asthma. Immediate asthma is often associated with IgE allergic reactions, and chronic asthma is associated with non-IgE allergies. It can be relatively simple to deduce a trigger for an immediate and acute asthmatic reaction. But what should we do about chronic asthma?

3 Ways to Deal with Chronic Asthma:

  1. Remove the cause: The best choice for eradicating chronic asthma completely. The comprehensive ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay) panel is a blood test which examines our bodies’ reaction to 96 of the most common food allergens. Once we remove the offending substance from our diets, improvement is swift and drastic.
  2. Treat the symptoms: Anti-inflammatory medications, bronchodilators, inhalers and nebulizers are all helpful in combating asthma symptoms. While these pharmaceuticals ameliorate discomfort, they do not treat the cause. They can also cause many detrimental side effects such as facial swelling, blistered or peeling skin, severe headaches, insomnia, and vomiting.
  3. Alter the host: Many medical doctors recommend allergy shots (immunotherapy). Repeated exposure of small doses of the allergen trains the immune system to not react. Many people report success with this method. However, there are potential side effects when we drastically alter our own immune system.