Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fresh food allergy testing, going off allergy meds

Last week I took Ellie in to her allergist's office to do fresh food allergy testing. The way this works is a lot like traditional skin prick allergy testing. First the nurse used the food extracts, taking plastic pins that had been submerged in food extracts and then poking them into Ellie's back. With the extracts, Ellie had positive results for parsley and spinach. Because the results were so clear, we did not follow up with the fresh foods for parsley and spinach.

Next, came the fresh food testing. I had brought in a bunch of foods that I suspected for causing problems for Ellie. I focused on foods that cross-react with birch tree pollen since we've been suspecting Oral Allergy Syndrome, but I also threw in random foods my mama instincts told me were suspicious. It was actually very cute because Ellie was not keen on doing a second round of "pokes" but the nurse encouraged Ellie to poke the pins into the fruits and vegetables which really helped settle her down. With the fresh food testing Ellie tested positive for celery, carrots, lemon, grapefruit.

This is all in addition to the positive results Ellie got from our last appointment: walnut, cinnamon, codfish, bananas and oysters.

Using both the extracts and the fresh food testing Ellie was negative for allergies to: peanut, cantaloupe, honeydew, almond, Brazil nut, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, pistachio, tomato, apple, garlic, orange, pear and zucchini.

I think it's important to emphasize that food allergy testing - even fresh food testing, which can be more accurate - is only a starting point to detecting problem foods for a child. I have been suspecting tomatoes for a while now and intended to pick one up at the store when I went on my (very odd) allergy testing grocery shopping trip. But I spaced on the tomato so Ellie only got tested with the extract. It came back negative. So the other night I went against my instincts and gave her some cherry tomatoes on her dinner salad. Within a half an hour her cheeks were bright red, she was complaining of a tummy ache and that night it took until past 11 p.m. to get her to bed because she was so hopped up on the adrenaline rush of an allergic reaction.

It was interesting to observe that this actually happened the day of Ellie's fresh food allergy testing. By the end of the appointment Ellie had bright red cheeks and (even though she's typically quite mild mannered) was suddenly running around the entire doctor's office like a wild child. The nurse and doctor both noticed the sudden change and gave me a Zyrtec to cut in half and give her to end the reaction. It worked wonders.

Which brings me back to our decision a few weeks ago to start giving Ellie Singulair in the hope that it would help expand her diet. Not only did it not accomplish that goal (she got incredibly sick from spinach while on Singulair) it also caused her to develop a Urinary Tract Infection. Ellie never gets these, and came down with one 4 days into Singulair. Her allergist told me that she has seen urinary symptoms crop up with Singulair very rarely. And of course Ellie is going to be that 1 in 100. It's frustrating to think that taking that leap and deciding to use Singulair caused us to have to give Ellie antibiotics after working so hard to rebuild her gut flora for the past 14 months. But because of her very low immunoglobulin levels, we were not going to mess with an infection. 

Because of all of this food testing, we're back in that place where we're working from a very restricted list of foods to see if we can get Ellie to a baseline with the right foods. So, here's where my sweet baby is at today:

Chia, flax and hemp seeds
Apples (peeled)
Green beans
Butternut squash
Yellow squash
Sweet potato
Cashew butter
Almond butter
Nut milk (homemade)
Olive oil
Duck fat
Flax crackers (homemade)

It feels like a nearly impossible list to manage, and we are working to expand it every day.

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