Monday, July 23, 2012

The Alphabet Soup of Food Reactions

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I had previously written about how I had finally found an ENT physician who figured out part of the problems that I have been having with my ears.  It was more than a welcome relief to have some answers when he diagnosed me with eustachian tube dysfunction and chronic sinusitis both of which are not uncommon issues for patients with Sjogren's Syndrome.

Part of his strategy for dealing with these problems was to test me for food sensitivities something that I had never had done before or heard much about.  His hypothesis was that the blood tests would show that I had multiple sensitivities and eliminating some of these foods from my diet might help improve the sinus and ear problems that I have been having.  And I would certainly prefer to eliminate food from my diet if that means not having to have be on antibiotics or getting tubes in my ears, which is a procedure I would like to avoid!  And I have already become accustomed to adjusting my diet substantially due to a number of serious food allergies.

Food allergies and food sensitivities are distinct.  I am (un)lucky enough to have a number of diagnosed food allergies which have landed me in the emergency room on more than one occasion.

Food Allergies are very serious and involve a histamine reaction to a food exposure in this case that can cause asthma, hives, and at its most serious swelling of the tongue and tightening of the airways that can cause anaphlyaxis and can even be fatal. They are often called IgE mediated allergies because during exposure to a food allergen, an individual's B cell's mistakenly recognize the allergen as a foreign invaded and produce IgE antibodies.

Food Sensitivities are a delayed food reaction where symptoms may appear up to three days after eating a food.  Symptoms might include bloating, headache, migraine, joint pain, sinusitis, and fatigue, and other aliments depending on the person.  Food sensitivity testing measures whether IgG antibodies increase when an individual is exposed to a particular food. 

My doctor did tell me that food sensitivity testing is controversial in the United States and tends to be more accepted in Europe.  Interestingly, my physician, who is an ENT surgeon, began food sensitivity testing when a some of his patients did not improve as much as he had hoped after surgery.  He did see further improvements, however,  in many of these patients when they modified their diets based on findings from the IgG tests.

Well, I got my test results back from his office and the testing confirmed that I am intolerant to gluten and wheat.  Luckily, I had already eliminated gluten from my diet almost nine months ago and it made a huge difference in my constant stomach upset and joint pain.  However, there were a few other food items that came up as problems and some of them seem very hard to part with including coffee and baker's and brewer's yeast and then there are some which are easier to avoid such as green beans, egg yolk and ginger.

I liked my doctor's approach on the baker's yeast which is in almost all processed foods including those that are gluten free such as breads, cookies, and bagels was to do my best, but it will be very hard to be 100 percent perfect.  So this is a bit of an experiment in the works.  Will I be ambitious enough to try to make my own gluten free bread without yeast?  I am not sure yet, but I will provide an update as to how this goes, if I am able to stick to taking these foods out of my diet, and if I notice any changes.  The good news is that IgG reactions are not life-threatening and are often not permanent so it is possible after taking an IgG positive food out of the diet for a number of months, to reintroduce the food in small amounts in the future.

Have any of you been tested for food sensitivities by your physician and has an elimination diet of these foods been helpful to your health or any of your autoimmune disease symptoms?


  1. Good luck on your new diet. Hopefully, it will work for you,

  2. Thanks Suzy! Will keep posting about how it goes.