Let me start off by saying I am NOT a doctor, an allergist or any kind of specialist at all. I can, however, speak from personal experience on this subject. I spent many years not knowing that I had food allergies. I suffered symptoms that most people never even know exist when dealing with a food allergy, myself included. It is easy to pass off certain reactions you get after eating as being normal, having eaten too much or maybe just had a bit of bad food. It is these symptoms I wish to discuss today.
I love eggs! I mean I really LOVE eggs. Over easy, scrambled, hard boiled, devil’s eggs, Farmer’s Omelettes with the ham, bacon, cheese, onion, peppers, and hash browns inside… best breakfast food EVERRRRR. For many years I would go hog wild for eggs eating every style of cooked egg known to man. But after eating said eggs, I would feel very sick, get some pretty extreme pain in the upper right side of my stomach, become very tired as in I HAD to lay down right there where I was and could not keep my eyes open and even sometimes become nauseous. All day long I would suffer from uncontrollable gas and bloating.
Sometimes, the pain in my side was so severe it lead me straight to the hospital emergency room. Never once did the doctor’s see these symptoms and ask me what I had eaten or indicate that I might be allergic to some sort of food. Instead, opting for running a battery of tests that usually came back normal. Puzzled, they would send me home and tell me nothing was wrong with me. I would get so flustered! They made me think I was crazy. I even had one or two of them subtly suggest I was a hypochondriac or making it up for attention.
As a kid, my mom would then get upset with me for having to stop what she was doing and uproot her entire day to sit in the emergency room with me just to find out, “I was faking it.” As an adult, I would leave the hospital crying and bewildered, confused as to why they could not find what was wrong with me. I knew I was not making up the pain. I knew it was not the type of pain one gets while having bloat and gas. That was different and I knew that because I suffered that as well and could tell the difference.
The pain I was having was, like I said earlier, in my upper right side of my stomach. It was under my rib cage and felt like it was my liver getting stabbed with a knife, or like someone had infiltrated my skin, bypassing my ribs and grabbed ahold of something inside me proceeding to squeeze the bajesus out of it. I would be doubled over unable to stand up straight. Pressing my fingers or hand into my side gave me some relief but not much.
Eventually, after a battery of tests, a doctor had told me that my gallbladder was not functioning properly. That the flaps would not open all the way to let the food out. So into surgery, I went, to have it removed. This was supposed to take care of the pain. It did not.
This type of reaction often goes undiagnosed as a food allergy. It is a very long and difficult process to find a doctor that will listen to you and put you on the right road to having any answers. It was by chance, that I ended up in an allergists office because of some environmental allergies that needed treatment.
Upon discussing reactions to different things with her, it was finally suggested that I suffered from some pretty severe food allergies. After undergoing the awesome process of millions of tiny little pokes, it was confirmed. So here I sit after 33 years of being told it was all in my head and I was making it up for attention, feeling relieved that I was not in fact crazy. Imagine that!
Part of the problem here is that in movies, food allergies are depicted in the worse case scenario. The person’s tongue swells up causing their airway to close off, they get hives, turn red and need to be rushed to the hospital. Sometimes their whole face/neck swells up as well. I am not saying Hollywood is the problem here. However, people assume and associate this as being the ONLY reaction to show a food allergy which is not the case.
There needs to be more awareness to all of the symptoms of food allergies. I am not talking about the most severe cases here. I am talking about the mild to moderate reactions. The Mayo Clinic has some wonderful information on food allergies. This PDF document is also a handy reference to have.
If you are suffering any of the following symptoms and doctor’s cannot find the cause, start seeing an allergist and remain vigilant on talking about food allergies.
- passing excessive amounts of gas
- itching or tingling lips
Usually, you will have several of these symptoms at once. They can start right away or take several hours to creep up. It is because of the sometimes delayed reaction that people do not associate these symptoms with having a food allergy or to something they ate.
For me, it turns out I have quite a list of things my body has decided to protest against eating. That list seems to grow daily as now that I know what symptoms to look for, I can be more mindful of what is and what is not an allergy to something I ate. The only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid that food at all costs. This is because even if you have only had a mild reaction to a certain food in the past, you may end up having a severe reaction the next time. There is no balance when it comes to having food allergies. I found that out the hard way when I thought, oh just a few bites won’t hurt me. Let me tell you, that was the wrong thing to do.
I hope this has helped shed a light on some unknown facts about food allergies that doctor’s don’t tell you or even think about themselves. ~~Cheynoea