Saturday, June 22, 2013

Food Allergies. Our experience and some tips.

Nailing down the cause of an eczema flare has been as annoying as a Three Stooges episode. Even though Izaiah was diagnosed with eczema by 2 weeks of age, I had never heard of or seen a flare so when it first crept on, I mistook it for yeast. I tried some grapefruit seed extract, but the rash got worse. I wondered if it was a yeast die-off. Even the Naturopath wouldn't commit to that. I was way off track.

An MD, then, misdiagnosed scabies causing unnecessary expense, incorrect medication, and a whole lot of wasted energy on laundry...just what every Mom doesn't need!

Later, I drove myself insane trying to flesh out food allergies.

An IgG/IgA test revealed allergies to everything on the planet except for fish, pork, lamb, beets, blueberries, and water. We adhered to a strict diet free of dairy, sugar, soy, beef, corn, vegetables, fruits, wheat, gluten, and some 90 other food items and their food families. It was frustrating eliminating the presumably guilty foods only to later add many of them back in as they were proved innocent. GMO corn, artificial colors and flavors, egg, soy, and tomato remain on the watch list; but the rest of them, including dairy, do not.

When we finally made it to the dermatologist, she informed me that the time to test for food allergies is NOT during an eczema flare. The results will show false positives to nearly everything. *Take note.

Gluten, is also something I have continued to keep on the 'no-no' list because I have witnessed monumental changes: 
  • 1.)  an increased interest in playing with home.
  • 2.)  a desire to make eye contact with our family more often.
  • 3.)  engages with our family. He grabs our hands to play and is a wee-bit more home.
  • 4.)  purposefully making vocal sounds.  Still non-verbal, but he's exploring!
  • 5.)  he's happy.  He laughs and smiles more.  He tries to be silly.
  • 6.)  bowel movements are much better, read: potty training!!!!
We also began a large dose of vitamin D which had a major impact on Izaiah's mood. The first night he had vitamin D, I had a fun little boy for the first time. I never wanted it to end!  He takes 2500 IU daily.

Is he cured of autism? No. But it has helped bring out his personality around people he knows. It hasn't changed who he is, but he is irrefutably happier and fabulously less irritable; enough to keep him gluten free forever! He still needs to be touched, pressed, squished, held, nursed; he's still anti-social around strangers and peers; he still melts down and has his own agenda. He still likes to line things up, spin wheels, and jump. He just does it with a big, happy, smile now! Being sugar free, gmo free, dye free, artificial flavor free has also made him calmer. Time, age, maturity has been the best 'cure' at our house for autism and sensory issues.

Before and after shot of eczema flare
Is he cured of eczema? No. But knowing his real food sensitivities will help avoid unnecessary reactions. Understanding how heat, humidity, weather/season changes, and stress affect eczema has been just as helpful. Learning how to maintain the skin has been golden. I feel like I finally know how to handle to eczema from the inside and the outside, which is where I started my journey.

If I could do this whole food allergy event over, I would have:

1.) Sought out a dermatologist to get educated about baths, ointments, creams, wet wraps, etc. years ago when Izaiah was first diagnosed with it.

2,) Sought out a holistic doctor instead of a naturopath for allergies. Holistic doctors are often covered by insurance, can order tests, and are accepted in the medical community. A naturopath is a good route, just know they will not be covered by insurance and if you show the tests to your regular doctor or pediatrician, they will just make you redo them and repay.

3.) Known this was not a DIY project. Food allergies, vitamins, supplements, enzymes, probiotics, elimination diets, etc. are just as serious and individual as pharmaceuticals.What works for one family could be detrimental to yours. There are tons of very poor quality products (and advice) out there. Get with a holistic doctor or a naturopath if your regular doctor won't help and get a plan of action specific to your needs.

TIP:  During an elimination diet, just remove suspected allergens, don't replace. For example, don't remove cow's milk and replace it with almond, soy, or coconut milk. All of those are top allergens as well, so it could make things worse.

Click here for some Biblical and fascinating myths about our diets. 

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