Posts Tagged ‘asthma’

Too Many Allergies! Update on Manny

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Okay, it’s been a while since I shared about Manny and how it’s going working with his eczema. We went to the doctor today, and I decided it was time to record some things.

First, his eczema is pretty much under control, but he still gets itchy. And he keeps breaking out around his mouth–and if we don’t put something on it for a few days (which is hard, because he hates me putting anything on his face), it gets dry and cracked and peels and bleeds and, well, yeah, not good.

We have tried various and sundry supplements. We have taken him off of beans for the most part, added chicken once a week, and try to get down hemp protein and chia seeds whenever possible. And quinoa and amaranth are complete proteins (meaning they contain all the essential amino acids), and he likes them more or less.

At the last visit, I asked if we could do a test of several foods that were not on the normal IgE test. So we made a list of about a dozen foods–things like spinach, cucumber, apples, carrots, etc. I was floored by the results. Every single one of them was either moderate, high, or very high. As the doctor put it, at the moderate level, doctors prescribe epi pens just to be safe. At the higher levels, there is risk for anaphylactic shock. Granted, my son has never had that. The worst reaction he has ever had could best be described as a mild case of asthma, with wheezing and excess mucus. It usually only lasts 10-15 minutes. Also, the quantity of food determines the severity of his reaction. He doesn’t appear to react at all to minuscule amounts of allergens–for instance, I make nut milk in the same blender that I make his rice milk, and there is no way I can thoroughly clean the blade. So I couldn’t give his rice milk to someone who got anaphylaxis from, say, almonds, because they would probably end up in the hospital. On the other hand, if I gave him a teaspoon of almond milk, he would probably have some kind of immediate reaction–exactly what would be hard to say, since he’s never had any.

One reason we have been going to a naturopath is that we like taking a natural approach first and foremost. But we are running out of options. Today he started talking about what antihistamines we had tried, and had we ever tried oral steroids.

Now, many people trying the natural approach would shy away from steroids of any kind, especially oral ones. But I didn’t bat an eye. You see, I had an experience once when my left eyelid became inflamed, and there was no apparent cause. The doctor was puzzled; she had never seen anything like it. She tried a mild steroid for about 5 days, and it improved, but as soon as I ran out, it came back. She tried Prednisone for about 7 or 8 days, but it had the same reaction. I ran out near the weekend, and by Saturday I was very uncomfortable. My eyelid was almost swollen shut, and it was very irritated (thankfully they eye itself was never affected). As a Seventh-day Adventist, I attend church on Saturday, and do not believe in conducting business on that day. However, when one of the elder’s wives told me that I really shouldn’t wait for Monday, but should go to a doctor that very afternoon, I went. She told me of a Mexican doctor right on my way home, and even though I got there about 15 minutes after closing time, she was still there and took pity on me. She showed me a picture in one of her books of the very condition I had, gave me a longer dose of Prednisone and I think some cream, and it went away and never came back.

I do not believe that the Prednisone cured me. I believe it simply calmed the inflammation long enough for my body to deal with whatever was causing the problem and to heal itself. That is what the naturopath was thinking when he recommended the oral steroids. He said we would taper it, just like I did for my eyelid, and that the idea would be to simply give his digestive system a chance to calm down and heal a little. Because his allergies are just out of control. Honestly, the only things he has ever tested not allergic to are meat and chocolate. We haven’t tested any gluten-free grains, but all of them (except buckwheat, which is as bad as milk) seem to be okay. At least, we are trying to keep a little variety!

So I decided to try Zyrtec. We had already tried Benadryl (he reacted to it) and Claratin (no reaction, but no improvement, either), so that was our next OTC choice. I think there is one more option if we ever need it; after that, we would have to look at prescription antihistamines. We already tried one, but either it tasted so bad that it gagged him, or he reacted to it and threw it up. He was too young to ask, but whatever it was, I’m not trying it again! (I’m sure the doctor has a record of what prescriptions he gave back then, so I could ask for a different one if needed.)

We are also going to look into L-glutamine. I can’t remember if we ever tried it or not, and I can’t remember where I heard about it, but I know I’ve heard of it before. We’re going to see if it has any effect on him at all. I think the steroids would be the last resort.

At the suggestion of a couple of people, I decided to test pumpkin seeds on Manny. He had never had them before. I started with a simple skin test. I crushed one seed between two spoons and rubbed some of the crumbs between my fingers until they felt oily. Then I rubbed this into the back of his knee, in the soft skin where he has recently broken out (at the moment, it’s pretty clear). When no reaction showed after several minutes, I let him try a tiny bit of the crushed seed. [Please note: If your child has a history of anaphylaxis, you may want to try such a test under a doctor's supervision; my son has never had any form of anaphylaxis, and the severity of his reactions are directly proportional to the amount of allergen consumed. He does not appear highly sensitive to small amounts of contamination, or I would probably ask his doctor to do an allergy test before testing any food orally. I would strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor about doing such home tests on your child.]

When he still had no reaction–including no funny sensations in his mouth, such as he had with coconut and cashew–I gave him the rest of the crushed seed, followed by one whole seed. He really liked them, and didn’t seem to react at all. No congestion, no “allergy asthma” (this is the best description I have heard for one of the reactions he gets), no itchiness, nothing. So I posted on Facebook that I was “cautiously optimistic” about the seeds.

That night, however, he was restless. After being put to bed, he fell asleep quickly, but then would keep waking and calling for Mama or just groaning or fussing and rubbing his eyes and scratching his neck (which is somewhat irritated still). I had observed this behavior before, usually after consuming such small quantities of allergens that he had no reaction at the time of consumption. One example would be the night after he ate the gluten-free pasta at the Olive Garden. I found out later that it is made with corn, tomatoes, cheese, and a number of other known allergens. I wish they would just serve rice pasta! But I digress.

I had gone to the pharmacy earlier in the evening and purchased the generic Zyrtec antihistamine, and when my husband started complaining about how he wasn’t going to get any sleep that night (and I began to wonder if I would either), it occurred to me to give him a dose. So I did. He only whined once after that, and then slept peacefully the rest of the night. So apparently Zyrtec is the drug of choice for Manny. I like that it only has to be given once a day, unlike Benadryl. So if it causes drowsiness, I will just give the dose in the evening and put him to bed. He’s over any drowsiness he might have by morning, so it works out well.

So that’s where we are at. Still struggling with his diet–especially now that he is in the very picky/doesn’t like anything stage (normal for his age, but very trying, since his choices are already so limited). Top that off with him being hungry all the time (I think he might be growing), and, well, you can probably relate if you are reading this, because either your child has eczema too, or someone close to you does. So wish me luck, and if you have any ideas, please share them!

Will Rogers Institute Raises Asthma Awareness

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Did you know that there are currently over 7 million children in the U.S. who suffer from asthma? And that children with eczema are at higher risk of developing asthma?  The Will Rogers Institute, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting medical research and educating the general public on topics of health and fitness, is sharing an exclusive Public Service Announcement campaign with us!

It’s startling to learn, but asthma has been identified as one of the country’s most common and costly illnesses!  Because of this fact, we must do everything we can to educate and discuss this condition and help change these statistics for the future of our children.   WRI has released a new PSA campaign that highlights the danger signs and health risks associated with asthma, starring Emmy award winning actor Bryan Cranston, best known for his starring role in the AMC drama series Breaking Bad.

For an exclusive look at the PSA, please visit the campaign page: www.westglen.com/online/wripsa.html

This fall, with the help of Cranston, WRI is getting out there and sharing this PSA with the public and I encourage you all to pass along this information to loved ones as well.  The simple signs of asthma to look out for include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath

Take notice of these signs and symptoms and determine whether it’s appropriate to talk to your child’s doctor about asthma. Together, by educating, we can really make a difference.

For even more information, including free health booklets, please visit: www.WRInstitute.org.

Help! My Baby Has Eczema: The Beginning

Friday, January 7th, 2011

My son was born at home on January 17, 2009. He was 7 pounds 12 ounces–just like his sister had been. Perfect. Precious. Adorable. We had no idea what was ahead.

When he was around one month old, I started noticing what looked like baby acne. The doctor didn’t seem concerned about it. Then a few weeks later he started getting puffiness an redness around his eyes.  You can see it in the next picture. Once we determined that this was not something in his eyes, we watched as it gradually spread and eventually he was diagnosed with eczema.

I am familiar with eczema. My brother had it growing up, and we were able to control it with a limited diet and some cream that mom put on it. It was mostly on his tummy, and it bothered him some, but usually only if he ate something he wasn’t supposed to eat. I learned to read labels. He grew out of it sometime around puberty and eats everything today–even the wheat that he was born allergic to.

But this was nothing like my brother’s eczema. Within two or three months it spread over almost his entire body, until he looked and felt absolutely miserable. Sweat irritated him, and summer was coming. I watched as the patches of “good skin” got smaller and smaller, finally disappearing under the onslaught of the advancing raw, irritated, itchy skin that is characteristic of eczema.

I remember the doctor asking me about a “bruise” over his sternum. I hastened to assure her that that was no bruise, but rather a patch of good skin surrounded by bleached bad skin. You see, the eczema actually bleaches his skin. He got a light olive complexion from his father (who is Hispanic), but when suffering from the ravages of eczema he is whiter than I am.

Although he didn’t look very white. He looked awful. Here’s a picture one of my cousins took of him when he was about six months old. You can see how red and irritated his cheeks were. Sadly, this was also the state of his tummy and thighs. The red patches were raw and oozing a lot of the time.

Now, I had done some research, and I had heard that there was a link between eczema and asthma. That what was causing the skin irritation was toxins or something the body was getting rid of through the skin that was causing such irritation. The theory was that if this was suppressed (by the use of steroids) that the irritation would go inward to the lungs and cause asthma. Indeed, many children with eczema also have asthma. For this reason, I was leery of using any steroid cream at all–even hydrocortisone. I used it only on the worst areas, and as sparingly as possible.

During this time, I also tried to figure out what was causing this problem. I systematically eliminated wheat, soy, eggs, and milk from my diet, one by one, trying to figure out what was causing such a reaction. There was no change. (I should say that after testing each one, I added it back in to my diet, so I was only avoiding one food at a time.) Finally we had a rather unconventional allergy test done (electroacu-something–some kind of thing where they tested for electrical responses on the skin) and it pinpointed several foods. I cut those foods out of my diet. Nothing changed. I began to wonder how long it was going to take to see a change, since he seemed to be getting steadily worse.

Then I heard about NAET. Desperate to try anything, we went for several sessions. Nothing changed. Granted, we didn’t give it long enough. But money ran out, and I’m not sure it was doing anything anyway. I don’t want to go into that here. I was willing to try anything, but I wonder if it is a valid thing or if it something dangerous. I don’t have the answer. All I know is, it didn’t work and we’ve moved on.

By this time, I was really becoming emotionally drained. Trying to deal emotionally with the fact that my precious baby was suffering so much was just too much for me. I will share more about that in a future post. Next week I will share with you more about the things we tries in terms of diet to find a solution. I will post an instalment of this series every Friday morning until I finish–however long that takes. So stay tuned to see how I coped and what turned things around for us, and consider subscribing so you don’t miss out on the rest of the story.


This post was originally published on the Life of a Happy Mom blog. You can read more comments on this post here.