Life with Food Allergies: Enduring Pain

I often wonder if the physical pain of allergies, ranging from skin or blood tests to shots, is worth the knowledge or attempts at reduction, particularly when I’m watching my son endure the pain. Unfortunately, I don’t have any cut and dry answers for you today. Rather, I believe it is a personal choice of whether to endure the pain or avoid it.

What I Wish I Knew….

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Enduring pain for allergy testing and treatment is a personal decision.  Having proper and sufficient medical information is important in coming to this decision.

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We have made the choice to put our son through physician-directed testing on an as prescribed basis.  This has typically been two times each year, but in the last two years or so, testing has slowed down.  Allergy testing has been in two forms: skin prick test and blood draw.

He's thrilled!

Our Personal Reasons for Allergy Testing:

  • We trust our son’s allergist.  I am that mom who second guesses every bit of doctor advice.  I am that woman who researches every prescription before taking it.  I am that person who avoids medical procedures and treatment because I disagree with the doctor.  But in most cases, after thorough discussion with my son’s allergist (she actually spends as much time with us as we need) , we have come to mutual decisions about his testing.
  • My son’s allergies were so difficult for me to pinpoint when he was a nursing infant.  Simply removing and reintroducing foods into my diet was not giving me the clear answers I needed.  The pediatricians refusal to move on my suspicians of food allergy, promoted me to take the situation into my own hands.  It wasn’t until my son (at 8 months of age) was given a skin test, leading to several food allergy diagnoses, and removal from my diet did we start to see some relief to him.  I would not change that decision seven years later.
  • While we haven’t seen him grow out of any allergies yet, we are still hopeful that he will.  His numbers have been too high for me to simply give him haphazard food challenges at home.  He must be tested by the doctor at least once a year to ensure his safety and to decide on the right options for him.  So far, the results have been a total food avoidance regiment (excluding his current dairy immunotherapy — it’s going well!).
  • As I mentioned in the previous point, food challenges are too risky for him to go into anaphylactic shock.  His only option has been skin or blood tests.

My advice to you:

  • Talk to an allergist.  If possible, I recommend a pediatric allergist (for your child) or an adult allergist, as opposed to a general pediatrician or doctor.  They are typically more up-to-date on the research and more familiar with the testing, results, prognosis, and treatment.
  • It’s a personal decision.  After consultation with your doctor, take into consideration your family dynamics and child’s disposition before coming to a decision.

I’ve focused today on the pain related to allergy testing, not allergy shots.  After my son was tested for environmental allergens and discussing his current treatment regiment (over-the-counter allergy medication), we decided against pursuing allergy shots at this time.  For this reason, I cannot speak to the pain involved in weekly allergy shots.  If you do have experience, I encourage you to share that with us in the comments.

What has been your experience and/or opinion about enduring pain in the name of allergy testing and treatment?

If you have missed any of the posts, you can click on the series image in the sidebar or the link here: Life with Food Allergy series.  The next topic in the series is: Facing the fact that there is no cure.  I hope you’ll join us again.

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5 Responses to Life with Food Allergies: Enduring Pain

  1. Pingback: Life with Food Allergies: Enduring Pain | The Willing Cook | Allergy to Wheat - Symptoms Treatment

  2. I just had my son, who is 6, re-tested with the skin prick test. I held off for over 2 years because of the trauma he went through during testing back when he was 4. It was horrible and he had bruises…and I told myself, never again! He is older now and starting a full day of school in 1st grade where he will be having lunch during school. I wanted to know, for myself, if his current allergies had changed…hopefully, for the better. Since we very strictly stay away from the foods that he is allergic to…we had no way of knowing. He did do much better this go around and let them do it on his arm…it took 2 attempts, but we got it done. Absolutely nothing had changed…now I know…and I am going to save him some heartache and hold off at least another 3 to 4 years before he is tested again. He was so nervous and crying…it’s just not worth it for me to have it done every year. In the beginning, per the doctor’s request, he was tested every 6 months for 2 years. It’s hard as a mother to see your child be put through tests that are so traumatizing….my son always seems to feel like he has a curse and it brings his food allergies to the forefront instead of just working them into our daily routine making him feel “normal” when it comes to food! I’m glad I read your post….and good luck to you and your son during his food allergy journey!~
    ~Lisa @ Organized Chaos

    • Cook says:

      Lisa,

      I am so sorry to hear all the pain and tears that your son and family have endured over the years. My son isn’t crazy about the skin test, but he endures it anyway and does pretty well. He’s so used to it now that he gears himself up to take it. I think he actually likes the blood draw better because it’s one little stick and done.

      There are occasions when my son’s allergies feel like a curse to him, but most of the time, I think he views it as a normal part of his life. You’ve given me an idea of another post in this series. What are some practical ways you can help your child feel “normal” with food allergies?

      Thanks for your comment! I wish you all the best as your son starts 1st grade. I’m off to meet with my son’s 2nd grade teacher next week. It’s nerve-wracking, I know. For me, my faith gets me through the daily “letting go”.

      Take care,
      Michelle

  3. My daughter is currently 22 months. I was unable to BF and she had reactions to formula and was put on Hypoallergenic formula at a few weeks old. So, we knew there was something there from the beginning but her pediatrician said it wasn’t necessarily an allergy. When I introduced cow’s milk and eggs after she turned 1, we knew we had an issue. She puked immediately after eating either. Also, soymilk gave her hives. At this point her Dr. ordered an allergy test. We had to go to the lab twice to get enough blood drawn(they needed 3 full tubes). Honestly, I am not sure if I would do it to her again if given the decision. I have a feeling she is slightly traumatized from the experience, but she was getting sick with so many foods I am glad I do know her allergies now. It turns out she was allergic to cow’s milk, peanut and eggs, as well as mild allergies to soy, wheat, and environmental allergies. I am still waiting to see a local allergist(it was a 4month wait to the closest appointment) and due to her Dr. being untrained on nutrition, I have done hours upon hours of research on food, nutrition, etc. Luckily, she is extremely healthy and LOVES fruits and veggies of all sorts. We are now even considering a vegan lifestyle. Thanks to all this research I have done, I believe a lot of our society’s problems are due to the huge amount of animal foods in our life. It is a struggle to ensure she is always eating homemade, fresh food, and at times I have dismay that she won’t ever be able to eat “normal” food….but then I look around at the “normal” children today and I am reminded once again of my blessing in disguise!

    • Cook says:

      Katrina,

      That is pretty scary stuff (her severe reactions) at such a young age. My son was the same way, although I breastfed him, from only a few weeks old.

      Like I said in my post, everyone has to do what is right for their family and the personality of their child.

      I couldn’t agree with you more about looking around at how “normal” kids eat today. I honestly don’t think we’re missing out on much of anything. We all love our food!

      Thanks for sharing!
      Michelle

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