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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:00 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:42 am
Posts: 7
About 15 years ago, when I lived in Albuquerque, I was sufficiently dehydrated for the VA Hospital to administer a few liters of saline solution to me by IV. I had done this a few times previously, but this time was different. I felt a warm, relaxing feeling that was comfortable. Almost as soon as I began to relax, though, I began to feel restless. The sensation kept getting stronger, until I could hardly tolerate it. As soon as I could, I rushed out of the VA ER and went to my car. I wanted to tear apart anyone who got in front of me. I had a terrible time driving back home, because I felt like I was going to explode! I spent the next 3 days writhing in bed, feeling like I was going to explode. I did not go anywhere, and I don't believe I ate anything for those 3 days. I was told later that I might have had an allergetic reaction to the preservatives in the saline.

Today, I had an allergy test, the first one I have had since I was about 11 years old. Out of 26 allergens tested, I'm allergic to 24, 5 of them at Level 6, the most severe level on the chart. The test, itself, apparently triggered an anxiety attack, purely physiological distress. The nurse gave me some Singulair (originally an asthma drug) to counteract the attack, and stopped the testing.

What I experienced today at the allergy clinic was similar to the feeling I had back at the VA. I would not have thought of calling it an anxiety attack, because I associate that with a mental attitude of worry or fear. I felt antsy, like I need to jump up and run around, and maybe beat up someone, but I did not feel fear or concern.

I found this site because I am looking for information connecting anxiety attacks to allergies. Does anyone know anything about that?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 2:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
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Location: Toronto
Hi Rich,

Sorry to hear of the anxiety attacks, sounds awful.

This site is associated with Allergic Living magazine, and I'm its editor. We've covered anxiety and anaphylaxis a few times. See, for instance, an excerpt of this article: http://www.allergicliving.com/features.asp?copy_id=93

Anxiety around allergies usually arises in the context of fear of a reaction (usually from a traumatizing previous experience with one). Perhaps this was the case with you?

When you say you had all of these positive test results, were they to food, pollens, cats, dogs? Not sure what was being tested. Did the results make you feel fearful or do you think it was the exposure to the allergen sera?

Don't know if the nurse told you, btw, but there is a high rate of false positives with those skin tests. If you haven't experienced reactions to some of the things to which you got positive results, you'll want to sit down with your allergist to discuss - what am I really considered allergic to? That's step one: it really helps to know what to avoid.

Also, most people think of breathing difficulty and hives with allergic reactions. But a reaction can also affect the 4th body system - the cardiovascular system. Ask the allergist, is your blood pressure being increased (usually it's decreased in a reaction), which may be contributing to this sense of panic?

I've definitely had a case of fight or flight instinct kicking in during a reaction once. Grabbing EpiPens, my phone, my backpack, practically shooting out the door as my husband arrived to take me to hospital.

So I guess, if it truly is an allergic response, that sensation might relate to a number of things. You need that allergist to sit down with you.

_________________
Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:13 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:42 am
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I was unaware of any sense of fear, nor do I know of any reason I would have felt fear in that situation, particularly when more stressful doctor's visits in other environments have not triggered that kind of reaction. I have been to several doctors and had all sorts of things injected in me over the last few years (heart scans, brain scans, MRI, stress testing, etc.) I was simply sitting in a chair, following part of my testing, when I realized that I was becoming restless for no apparent reason. I tried to ignore it, but the sensation became worse. I also definitely knew when it ended, as I could feel the sensation gradually diminish and then end.

The skin tests were only for things that I might inhale during the course of a normal day. The nurse tested me for the area trees and molds, as well as dogs and cats. The only thing that I wasn't allergic to were dogs and cats.

I asked if there were a blood test that could do this testing. The nurse said the skin test is the most accurate, as it actually tests how the body responds to the allergens. I can't argue with the results; I've known since I was 10 that I was allergic to just about everything that is green and growing. I break out in welts all the time, especially when my forearm comes in contact with surfaces that other people have touched.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:40 am 
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I finally had time to read the article that you linked. I don't have that kind of fear. When I went into the hospital a few years ago to have a birthmark removed, I explained to the nurse what happened to me when I had the saline IV a decade earlier. When I awoke from my surgery, I was startled to see an IV hooked up to my arm, but I did not freak out. When the nurse came in, she explained that they had used a preservative-free saline for me.

BTW, I also react to saline nasal rinse. Apparently, the preservatives in some nasal rinse brands bother me. Phenylcarbinol is most likely the offending agent, though it could also be Disodium Phosphate or Benzalkonium Chloride. It feels like I'm spraying gasoline up my nose when I use a brand that contains these ingredients. The brands sold in the cylindrical bottles, such as WalMart carries, have these preservatives. I am able to use Humist nasal spray, but even then I found that I had to watch the serial number stamped on the bottom of the bottles, as certain lots caused a reaction. Now, I've switched to NeilMed's saline rinse bottle, which has no preservatives, just sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate in distilled water.

More than 36 hours have passed since I had my allergy test. I still have a faint, pink dot where the sample from eucalyptus was placed on my forearm, now obscured by more recent welts whose pattern indicates they came from my glass table top. I've showered twice and repeatedly applied anti-allergy creams to my arms since I took the allergy test. It isn't any wonder that I grew up feeling crummy.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2008 11:10 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
I wonder if it wasn't really an allergic reaction, rather than an anxiety attack? Maybe your system was just so overloaded with allergens that it couldn't cope. I'm sure that could happen to someone during an allergy test, especially if they appear to be allergic to most of the things that they are being tested for.

They didn't say that the Singulair was for anxiety, did they??? The Singulair website site says that it is for asthma and for relief of symptoms of indoor and outdoor allergies. So I could see it helping with an allergic reaction, but not with an anxiety attack.

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: Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:02 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:42 am
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I don't know how a doctor would classify it, but I am certain that it was a physical reaction to the test. The fact that my sensitivity to 5 of the allergens was at the last testable stage (I pegged the meter, as it were) suggests to me that any one or all combined could have caused the reaction. The nurse explained that Stage 6 represents a dilution of 1 part in 625 thousand of the level found naturally outside, but they still produced welts 7 to 11 mm in diameter. She told me that if I were to have prolonged contact with those plants, such as by pruning the trees, it probably would put me in the hospital. But, I already knew that, because I was bedridden as a child after pruning the elm tree in the back yard. I have felt a bit weird ever since the test.

The nurse told me the Singular was originally an asthma drug developed for children, but it had been found useful in some allergy patients. She conferred with the ENT before giving me the tablet. I estimate that about 15 or 20 minutes after I swallowed the tablet, the reaction stopped. The nurse and doctor were not sure whether I was having an allergetic reaction or an anxiety attack, though. My heart rate remained normal, and my blood pressure actually reached normal range* during the episode.

*When the nurse began the exam, she checked my blood pressure. It was something like 128 / 96. She chalked it up to my rushing to make it to my appointment (I was a half-hour late). That seems reasonable to me, because my blood pressure usually goes high when I drive in traffic. But, during the anxiety attack, my blood pressure dropped to something like 112 / 76. I don't remember the exact numbers, and I wasn't paying too much attention to it right then.


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