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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:55 am
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I am new here and would like to get your opinions/advice is I may. I am a 44 yo female who suffers from auto-immune thyroid disease as well as some other as yet undiagnosed auto-immune issue according to the doctor. I also have a lot of anxiety/panic. Now, to my question. Sorry for the long post!

About two years ago I had taken my children to a nearby town for for music lessons. We went to lunch and I had crab chowder. I have never had any allergic reactions as far as I know. During lunch I spilled a drink on one of my children. He does not handle things like that very well, so I decided to buy him some dry clothes. We were pressed for time and I got pretty worked up trying to take care of the situation and get to music lessons on time. I wasn't able to find him something to wear so we had to just leave him wet.

I got to the music school and his teacher wanted me to come back during the lesson. For some reason she makes me feel very inadequate so I was edgy about that as well. After sitting there for a little while (this was probably an hour after eating), I started feeling odd/funny. Then I noticed my palms were itching and I had a little bump on my lip. I had to tell her I didn't feel well and left the room to go to the bathroom. I had a few (no more than 5) small "hives" on my face and lip, and my feet were itching as well as my palms. At that point, thanks to my panic/anxiety kicking in, I pretty much freaked out thinking I was going to die from an allergic reaction. The ambulance was called and they assessed me. I did feel SOB and my heart was racing, but that might have been the panic. I don't think I actually had any respiratory distress.

I was given Benadryl and told I needed to be checked out at the hospital and I could either go in the ambulance or drive myself. I didn't feel safe taking my four children in the car, so I went with the EMT's. Was observed at the hospital and given steroid injection and released. Nothing else said/done.

I subsequently became very afraid of eating in case something bad happened and lost 45 pounds. Went to an ENT and had RAST testing done for all shellfish and lots of different fish. The only thing positive was lobster which was only a 1. I continue to have a lot of anxiety about food and the possibility of dying from anaphylaxis.

So, my basic question is does this even sound like an actual allergic reaction? Could it be related to my heightened anxiety/auto-immune problems? (My skin is very reactive to pressure, etc.) I really need to try to get my head around this as it is affecting my life so much.

It also doesn't help that I just saw an episode of Dr. G: Medical Examiner where a 25 yo woman died from anaphylaxis and they couldn't figure out what it was related to.

Any help/advice greatly appreciated.

Cindy


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:28 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
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Location: Ottawa
Wow, it's hard to figure out when you have a few other conditions isn't it?
The sweaty hands, shortness of breath and heart palpitations sound like anxiety to me, but the hives sound more like an allergic response.

Can I ask why you saw an ENT rather than an allergist? Did your Dr do a skin prick test? This is where they place a small amount of a potential allergen on your skin and prick the skin to introduce the allergen. If you respond, there's a good chance you are allergic. If you don't respond you aren't. This may have been too much for you at the time.

I can understand your wanting to avoid shellfish but I wouldn't try to avoid a lot of foods if the test was inconclusive.

The emotional reactions we have are there to help us cope. They either speed us into action or help us remain alert and absorb information. When they stop helping and become a road block, it's time to get a bit of help to put it all in perspective. Why don't you make a list of all of the things that you can do to keep yourself safe? When you see how much control you have over the situation, you may start to relax a little.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 1:27 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
Here is a really excellent website to help people who are suffering from anxiety:

http://www.anxietybc.com/

The BC Government may have dropped the ball with anaphylaxis, but they have the best resources for anxiety!

It would be very difficult to say whether your reaction was due to the shellfish, or something else, I think. Sometimes I have had itchy hands and feet, and it was allergy, but 'm not sure if it was food or not, it just seemed like really dry skin, and eczema, but I could not pinpoint what was causing it.

But it did not feel like something that was endangering me, more just itchy hands.

Perhaps you could start by talking to your family doctor about your concerns. They should be able to help you to figure out what should be your priority to get help with.

I went to a workshop on anxiety last month, and they have very effective treatments that can make dramatic differences in how people feel in very few sessions. It feels awful to worry like that all the time.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:22 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6502
Location: Ottawa
Wow, what a great website!

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 9:03 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
Hi Resting -

I have had itchy palms and hives during an allergic reaction to food, so those can be symptoms of a reaction. I don't know if itchy palms and hives can also be symptoms of anxiety, I'm afraid. It's hard for us laypeople to know if what you are going through is related to your heightened anxiety/auto-immune problems or not...

If it were me, as Susan said, I would first see an allergist, rather than an ENT, if that is at all possible. (Not everyone lives in an area where there are lots of allergists, I know.) This is not the first time I've heard of someone seeing an ENT for allergy testing, which puzzles me, because I have no idea what kind of training an ear-nose-and-throat specialist has for food allergies... For environmental allergies, I could see a bit of a link, but not so much for food. With the allergist you could get confirmation of your lobster allergy, and perhaps some advice on what to avoid. A second opinion is a good idea if you are not truly convinced that the first opinion was correct.

This whole situation really does seem to be having a dramatic impact on your life (losing 45 pounds is pretty major). Are you seeing someone - a counsellor of some sort - who specializes in anxiety? I agree with Susan that that would be something to really consider, along with checking out the BC website. I would make sure that the counsellor understands the ins and outs of food allergy, and is aware that a bit of anxiety is a good thing where that is concerned, as you have to keep yourself safe and aware of potential risks with regards to your allergen. But for it to be affecting your life to such a degree that you are afraid to eat and are constantly thinking about dying... obviously that isn't a good thing.

As for tv shows - you have to keep in mind that they make things very dramatic and mysterious on purpose, and unfortunately, it's rare that they get the facts right with regards to anaphylaxis. I know you know that - but it bears repeating! I often get upset when watching tv and movies, and my DH keeps telling me, "Karen, it's only a movie...!" ("Yeah, but it COULD be true," is what I am thinking. I should not do that! ;) )

By the way, the hospital should have recommended that you see an allergist when they discharged you, given what happened to you. It's unfortunate that that kind of advice isn't given to people when they end up in ER with an allergic reaction (or what could be an allergic reaction).

Hope this helps a bit.

K.

_________________
Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 10:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:55 am
Posts: 2
Wow! Thanks for the informative and compassionate responses. I saw an ENT because he does allergy testing and in the community we live in there aren't a lot of options. He used to do the skin prick, but the now only do blood testing. I had them test for all the different shellfish and all the other seafood that was on the list. II think that for peace of mind I will get an appointment with an allergist.

I know that some of the stuff that happened could definitely be related to anxiety, I was majorly worked up. However, the itchy, red palms and feet and the hives were not something that I've ever had before.

I've been having health issues for 6 + years without being able to get a definitive diagnosis and that has definitely fed into my anxiety. I don't like taking medicine so I'm trying to find out what is wrong instead of just treating the anxiety. I might have to give in on that though.

Thanks again for your help and I'll check out that website!

Cindy


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 11:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6502
Location: Ottawa
I can understand not wanting to take medications if you can avoid them. Talk to your Dr about this as well. Sometimes a different medication or a smaller dose will have the same effect with out the side effects.

Medication is not always a long term solution. Sometimes it is useful to help during other treatments. (ei, take the edge off the anxiety so that one can attend appointments or while learning other coping techniques. It's like when your body is in a highly reactive state and just needs to be re-set)

I hope you can find some methods which help you to cope. I hope you get some definative answers regarding your allergies, too.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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