"Allergy" frustrations

I’m not allergic to nuts, but they give me allergy-like problems. And, um, that’s all we can tell. Well, gee thanks, doc.

In the early 90s, I noticed a reaction I have when I eat tree nuts - walnuts and almonds and pecans mostly, but with other nuts also. A small amount of nut will cause painful canker-like sores in my mouth. More than a few nuts trigger sinus drainage, wheezing, itchy lungs, and a profound change in attitude (usually toward the person who offered me the food with hidden nuts.)

(Aside: Oddly enough, peanuts are just fine, as are cashews. I discovered the cashews last month to my great joy. Mmmmm, cashews, I haven’t tasted your sweet kiss in almost 15 years. It seems that the only nuts I have trouble with are true tree nuts.)

I have a much stronger reaction with mushrooms and various fungi like that found in bleu cheese. Immediate itchy lung and difficulty breathing. Immediate murderous thoughts to the person who swore up and down the spaghetti sauce doesn’t have mushrooms, and besides the package’s ingredients show just a small amount of mushrooms, and it’s never bothered them.

A series of appointments with an allergist has confirmed an allergy to molds and fungi, but the nuts tests came up negative. His opinion is that I have a hypersensitivity to some kinds of nuts, but it’s not an allergy, so he can’t help me there. I’m also starting to get blank stares from my GP when I ask for a referral to a specialist to help me track this down.

I’m currently at a loss as to what to do. I really like nuts, they seem to be in almost everything, and I want to know why I can’t eat them.

Incidentally, another food which gives me itchy lung is raw bananas. The allergist didn’t have a test for bananas, and doubted I was allergic to the actual fruit. I tried organically-grown bananas after someone suggested it might be pesticides, and what do you know, no itchy lung. I’m thinking I want to try this with organically-grown nuts some time, but not until after some more tests. If it runs the risk of closing up my lungs, then I want an Epipen on hand and an emergency room nearby, just in case.

Every year since we’ve lived on the East coast (which is about 9 years now), we’ve gone to the Crabfest, all you can eat steamed crabs. I love, love, love steamed crabs with Old Bay.

Last year, we’re sitting at the table, picking and eating away when I notice a heavy itching inside my chest (Itchy Lungs is a perfect description of it), a wheezing when I breathed, difficulty catching my breath, etc. and suddenly it dawned on me that I was having an allergic reaction. Hallgirl1 calmly got me to take two Benedryls, which helped, but it pretty much ended the crabfest euphoria right then and there. Knowing that it’s likely that the next reaction may be more severe, I’m reluctant to eat crabs again. (I don’t seem to have any problems with shrimp, oysters or fish.)

Hallgirl1 has the same reaction to bananas as you do, Subway Prophet, and I do with fresh pineapple.

Don’t you need a prescription for an Epi pen, or can it be purchased over the counter?

I can understand your frustration. I’m technically not allergic to anything, but have to feign allergic to things like perfumes and many cleaning products because I have asthma and vasomotor rhinitis. (short explanation: many perfumes and cleaning products and other things are both asthma triggers and histamine triggers for me.) I’ve explained this to people on prior occasions. Some people understand, while others seem to think I’m making it up. One example was when I was working in food service. One of my immediate supervisors (well, she was a head cashier) decided I needed to clean something with almost full-strength bleach, despite the fact that I explained to her that it makes me sick. I did, and within the half hour, I was in the bathroom, vomiting copiously and barely able to breathe. And, of course, when I was done doing that, I still had to stick at one of the cash registers while I had a pounding sinus headache and needed something with a bit of calories in me so I didn’t feel as weak. :rolleyes: At least I have a reasonably defined condition, even if it’s next to unheard of and has very little accessible information as to how or why it happens.

That well and truly sucks, phall0106. :frowning:

Have you had the courage to experiment with different types of bananas/pineapple? (Note: I do not recommend this! Repeated exposure can very quickly make the reactions much more severe.) According to the allergist who tested me, there’s not much in bananas that you can develop an allergy toward, but there might be stuff that accumulates during the processing of the bananas, and it might be that stuff that Hallgirl1 is allergic to. (I suspect this is the case with me.)

You need a perscription in the US and (I believe) Canada. But my allergist was ready to give me a perscription for one based on a relatively (according to him) mild mold allergy, so I’m not sure they’re really all that difficult to get. I opted to not get one because, at the time, I was pretty stupid. But Benedryl has worked OK for me so far…

I think my situation is similar to nashii’s. For years I thought I had serious pollen allergies, especially to the punk trees we have here. My GP prescribed Zyrtec which helped a bit. But I finally went to an allergist because I was constantly breaking out in hives even on Zyrtec and my Rx was almost gone. I was allergy testing and my lung capacity tested. I was only allergic to both species of dust mites. How can that be doc? I practically end up wheezing when some trees are blooming? “You have asthma and everything else is a trigger.” Of course! I would have bad coughing fits to certain chemical smells, like bleach, perfumes and cigarette smoke, they’re all triggers. Apparently so are most pollens, especially the punk tree, which the allergist said people have hypersensitivity reactions to the tree not allergic reactions.

My hives were not allergy related at all but a case of the histamine in my body going haywire. I am on Zyrtec and Singulair now and it controls the hives but I still get occasional breakthrough hives, rashes and dermographia. I also have to carry an inhaler for when I encounter one of those bad triggers. Cigarette smoke has become the worst. I know smokers think the person coughing around them is just being a drama queen but no, we’re not, we really can’t breathe okay? So could you stop please clustering aroung the entrance/exit to no-smoking establishments so I, and others like me, are not forced to walk through your cloud of smoky death? Thank you.

I used to think I was allergic to scallops but I never had a problem with other shellfish and I didn’t test positve for shellfish. I think the two incidents that made me think I was allergic to them must have been two cases of bad scallops, even though I felt better once my stomach purged them forcefully from my system and food poisoning usually lingers a while. Although I kind of ate one since with no problems I still haven’t felt brave enough to try an entire meal of them.
I feel for the OP about the nuts, I love them and would hate to have to give them up. At least you can still eat cashews though, those are the best. Were you tested for asthma? Perhaps it’s a similar hypersensitivity thing?

It’s this kind of attitude (hers, not yours) that really infuriates me. “If it doesn’t bother me, then you are obviously faking it.” It took two mushroom-tainted meals served by my grandmother-in-law (an otherwise astonishingly wonderful woman) before she got the clue that I wasn’t just talking out of my ass when I said “no mushrooms whatsoever.”

Her rationale? The ingredients on the package was too fine-print for her to read without her glasses, and if there was something bad in the mix, they’d warn you about it with large print. :dubious:

Her son, my father-in-law, for whom I struggle to find positive adjectives, is even worse. He has serious issues when eating onions and spicy foods, so we all need to take extra care when cooking for him. But he’ll think nothing about whipping out some leftovers which he knows has mushrooms, serving it up for everyone, and not saying one word to me because he forgot. Did I mention I currently live in the same house as this man? I’ve been married to his daughter for nearly ten years and seen him at least twice a month the whole time. The mushroom topic has come up again and again and he’s utterly clueless because it doesn’t affect him personally. One time I didn’t see the mushrooms in the sauce and before dinner was over I was wheezing for air, my wife searching the medicine cabinet for Benedryl. His reaction: “go walk it off - here, take a wintergreen mint, boy those help clean out my sinuses.”

If you want to discover that someone in the family is a closet sociopath completely lacking in empathy, develop an allergy.

I really need to be tested again. My brother has asthma, as does my father, but I tested OK at one location and got ambiguous results at another. Cigarette smoke and other fine particulates bother me a lot, but they’ll send my brother to his knees gasping like a fish. I can also run a hell of a lot farther than he can. (Well, used to, before I got fat and lazy and he didn’t. :slight_smile: )

I would love to get more information on this condition. Can you point me to any websites, etc? I’m SO tired of the doctor telling me I’m allergic and/or asthmatic, but telling me nothing about what triggers the continual cough/wheezing/tight chest.

Have you heard of oral allergy syndrome? I wonder if it’s what you are experiencing. It’s not technically an allergy to the item itself, more like a misplaced allergic reaction. My husband is allergic to birch pollen (among other things), and sometimes he cannot eat pears or kiwis because they have proteins in them that are similar to birch pollen.

I had a couple bosses like that. One accused me of faking a bad reaction to an insect sting: my left forearm was about the color of the :cool: smiley and about twice the size of the right, how the blazes do you fake something like that? It’s not like I’m saying “not tonight, honey, I have a headache”!

The other one called a coworker a cowardly piece of lazy shit when he asked another one to drive him to the hospital. When the driver came back looking very white and saying “boss, they’ve kept him in! They say it’s gastroenteritis and he’ll have to stay in for a week. He was dehydrated too,” the boss kept popping out of his office and saying “:dubious: really? You’re not kidding me? He’s got something?” “Yes, man, I told you, he’s got gastroenteritis, quit it already, man!” When the sick coworker returned (still not feeling well, of course), boss kept making so-called jokes about him being a wuss until the coworker said something along the lines of “dude, I’m feeling weaker than I ever remember feeling, but call me a wuss again and you’ll have to wank with the other hand.” (Both the boss’ insults and the coworker’s threats are illegal, but it was one of those companies).

But ah, if you had a hangover… then you could stay in bed, come late, not come in at all, whatever. Apparently neither had ever had a bad reaction to a sting or a bout of gastroenteritis; both had had many hangovers.

I would have liked to be a fly on the wall if ever the second one made fun of his wife when talking about, say, the delivery of their daughter. I mean, I’m reasonably sure that he’s never delivered a baby. Assholes.

You can’t eat them because your body overreacts to their presence.

First thing you should do stop eating nuts. And anything else causing these reactions. I realize that’s more difficult than it sounds - I have food allergies myself - but you really, really, need to do this.

Second - you may need to see an allergy specialist.

Wow, thanks Sam I Am! I just looked this up on Wikipedia and that is so close to what I experience it’s frightening. I didn’t mention gastro-intestinal problems, but they’re definitely there. I also have hay fever and am more sensitive to ragweed and cedar pollen. I’m definitely bringing this up with my GP next time I go in - he should’ve at least mentioned this.

Hmmm, it looks like cooking the quasi-allergen helps reduce the allergic reaction. I must try this next time I experiment. I am so looking forward to slivered almonds and pecans. :stuck_out_tongue:

I used to have multiple canker sores in my mouth at all times, since I was a young child. My brother has similar problems, and his doctor told him it was probably sensitivity to certain foods, most likely tomatoes, nuts and chocolate.

Once I had a bout of hives and the doctor put me on Claritin for awhile. Presto - the canker sores went away. I came off the Claritin because the hives cleared up, and within a few days the canker sores came back. Nowadays I take one Claritin a day and am canker sore-free. I buy the generic stuff at Costco, called “Allerclear”, because it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.

But I did see an allergy specialist, and he said I don’t have any nut allergies. (See the OP, fifth paragraph.) So if it’s not an allergy, then there’s a possibility that eating nuts won’t kill me, and I would like to find out, if possible, without having to actually go through an emergency room or morgue. I’m trying to get my general practicioner to refer me to another allergist or some other specialist for further testing, but he’s (honestly) something of an asshole and hasn’t given me the referral yet.

I know I need to find another GP anyway, since this one has other issues. I’m looking, but it’s very time consuming, and most of the good ones either won’t take new patients or have rediculously long waiting times in the lobby.

What sort of tests did the doctor do? I’ve heard that with food allergies, there are a fair number of false positives (test says you’re allergic, experience says you’re not) and false negatives (test says you’re fine, experience says you’re going to the ER).

Particularly the skin tests. My info is out of date on the newer tests (ELISA etc.).

Basically - what you describe sounds a lot like an allergic type of reaction and I’d be very cautious about experimenting with that. I hope you’re able to get better answers to what’s going on.