Symptoms, treatment & diet for pseudo allergy sufferers
In the case of a pseudo allergy, those affected simply do not imagine their symptoms, as outsiders often wrongly assume. In reality, the body actually reacts with symptoms that resemble those of classic allergy.
These type of allergies are always an interesting phenomenon. Not only do they differ significantly from ordinary hypersensitivities in some respects, but they also have not yet been fully researched.
In the following article, we would like to take a closer look at what the term pseudo-allergic reaction stands for, what triggers it, and how symptoms express themselves.
In addition, we focus on the diagnosis and therapy of pseudo-allergies.
Starting with the attempt to define it
If the body in contact with certain substances (mostly food and medication) reacts with clear symptoms of an allergy, but no classic diagnosis of allergies or food intolerances can be made, it is possible that the patient has a pseudo allergy.
One speaks of such an allergic reaction if clinical symptoms are similar to those of classic allergy, but no involvement of the immune system can be demonstrated (immunological reaction does not occur).
A non-specifically activation of mast cells takes place. In the case of classic allergies, antibodies specifically form beforehand, and the body reacts as a result with the classic signs of an allergy.
Certain food components and medication triggers pseudo-allergic reactions.
How does the trigger happen?
There are various substances that are involved in such hypertensions. Upon contact, the body reacts with the mast cells in the connective tissue.
Finally, the body releases messenger substances and classic allergy symptoms appear. All of this happens without the involvement of antibodies.
Classic triggers of pseudo-allergies
1- Drugs: Contrast agents, such as those used for radiological examinations; anti-inflammatory drugs; acetylsalicylic acid (ASA); opiate, and some type of muscle relaxants.
2- Food additives: colorants; preservatives; flavor enhancer; artificial sweeteners
3- Histamine: biogenic amine (breakdown product of food proteins); for example in salami, hard cheese, wine, anchovies, etc.
4- Natural flavors: such as those found in tomatoes
5- Salicylates: salicylic acid; occurs in fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, berries, pineapples, grapes, cucumber and medicines (see above).
Basically the symptoms of a pseudo hypersensitivity correspond to those of the classic allergy.
Reaction with the mast cells in the body and the subsequent release of messenger substances cause physical symptoms.
Under no circumstances is a pseudo-allergy an imaginary thing! On the contrary! We can easily compare the variation and strength of the signs to that of an allergy involving the immune system.
Overview of symptoms
Reactions of the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes and nose: allergic rhinitis; swelling of the mucous membrane; burning and itching; blistering; eye inflammation
In the bronchial system: mucus formation; Asthma; Shortness of breath
Skin reactions: redness; flush symptom; itching; edema; wheals
Reaction in the gastrointestinal tract: convulsions; nausea, vomiting; diarrhea
In the cardiovascular system: rapid heartbeat; a headache; dizziness; anaphylactic shock (rare)
Classic allergy versus pseudo allergy
Even if the symptoms are the same, there are clear differences between a classic allergy and a pseudo allergy. It is precisely these differences that make the diagnosis considerably more difficult.
The main difference is that there is no reaction of the immune system in the case of a pseudo allergy. In practice, this means that the antibody level in the blood remains normal.
This type of allergic reaction can, furthermore, take place upon first contact with the relevant allergy-causing substance.
In classic allergy, this can only occur on the second contact, since the formation of antibodies precedes the immune response.
Additionally, in pseudo-allergic reactions it is quite possible that small amounts of the respective substance will not cause any reaction.
With classic allergies, tiny amounts of the allergen usually suffice to make the immune system react.
Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis is extremely difficult because the classic diagnostic tools for determining an allergy do not work.
Neither the prick test nor the blood test for antibodies would give the corresponding results, since there is no involvement of the immune system.
The diagnosis is, therefore, quite lengthy. However, once the malefactors have been exposed, treatment is just as possible as with classic allergies.
The exclusion of classic allergies, food intolerance and corresponding medical history precede the suspicion of a pseudo allergy. Now it is important to find out which substances trigger the allergic reaction.
A food diary can help you a lot here. In this way, you can identify the relationships between the supply of certain substances and corresponding reactions.
A combination of an omission diet and provocation testing usually brings clarity. In a first step, the sufferer avoids all suspicious substances strictly over a period of three to four weeks.
If an improvement in the symptoms occurs, the previously eliminated substances are added under medical supervision. Afterwards, the doctor evaluates their effect on the patient. In this way it is possible to expose triggers of the pseudo-allergic reaction.
Once the physician knows all the triggers, to avoid them from the beginning on is important. Symptoms should improve quickly this way. The specialist can prescribe common allergy medication for acute cases.
Fundamentally, a pseudo allergy has better prognosis success rates than with classic allergies. On the one hand, similar to food intolerance, the body often tolerates small amounts of the allergenic substance.
In such cases one can begin a gradual introduction after abstinence. On the other hand, it is even possible that these type of allergic reactions will occur again on their own.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know your experiences with pseudo allergy. Share your thoughts and tips with our community in a comment below.
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