Friday, May 2, 2008

My Allergies Are Killing Me

A lot of people say this, not many people truly know how it feels. Allergies, for someone with chronic illness or chronic pain is like rubbing salt in an already gaping wound. It stirs everything up, makes you even more off balance, and creates pain where pain was previously subdued. Nothing, short of a major dose of Benadryl that'll knock you off your socks, will really settle this down.

I am more aware of these things now that I'm aware of my chronic illnesses. I can see the relation to the response to my allergies and the pain I feel.

So it inspired me today (because of my lack of focus and a quiet office) to do some internet research into allergies and chronic illness. I've posted about this before on TBC in relation to IBS (here), but I think the problem is more widespread than just IBS. In my research, though, I found nothing more concrete than what I suspect and nothing to really write home (or here) about.

I'm going to make a pronouncement here: I believe allergic reactions may very well be the root of all chronic illness. I believe that this will be discovered in 5-10 years.

Unfortunately, I'm not so positive about a solution. Sure we can all take a bunch of antihistimines, but who wants to walk around life in that state? There must be something more genetic in those of us with these conditions that can be modified or treated or something that would lead to the alleviation of pain and suffering.

So let's talk about allergies. What are they, and how do they work?

The Cleveland Clinic has a good basic overview of allergies in general. There it defines allergies as:

the immune system’s incorrect response to a foreign substance. Exposure to what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, causes the immune system to react as if the substance is harmful. Substances that cause allergies are called allergens.
It goes on to describe an allergic reaction:

A hypersensitive response, or allergic "reaction," is the result of how three factors interact with the body:

1. The allergen — Allergens include pollen, mold, dust mites, certain foods, latex, animal dander, and others.

2. Mast cells — Although mast cells are found throughout the body, most reside in connective tissues such as those of the skin, tongue, the lining of the nose and intestinal tract, the lungs, and upper airways.

3. Immunoglobulin E (IgE) — IgE is an allergic antibody, a type of protein made by the immune system to recognize and fight specific body "invaders." IgE coats the surface of the mast cells in tissues.

So we have basic definitions that tell us this: (1) Allergies cause a reaction of the immune system; (2) that reaction is due to a sensitivity and, thus, is an overreaction.

Some chronic illness allergy connections are easy to see. For example asthma is almost always exacerbated by allergens. But some aren't as easy to see. There is proof of their existence though. There have been studies done on the relation of allergies to interstitial cystitis. There's a pretty strong connection between allergies and migraines. An allergic reaction to candida in the body, or yeast, can be one of the root causes of vulvodynia. In fact, insulin resistance may truly be an allergic reaction in and of itself. There is research to show that PCOS is an allergic type reaction.

So tell me...if allergies are the cause of INFLAMMATION...and allergies are all common to these conditions, don't you think there's an inflammatory connection?

Just some biased and unprofessional opinion on it...