Environmental Illness

Discussion of Allergies

There is a great deal of confusion even amongst doctors about allergic reactions and the symptoms that they can cause. I have actually had some medical doctors tell my patients that "hives are the only true allergy." That simply shows the depth of their ignorance in this area.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, with the emergence of the AIDS virus, information regarding our immune systems has ballooned. We now know that the classic allergy picture--itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose--is just the tip of the iceberg.

We now know that allergic reactions can cause an entire host of unexpected reactions. [Listed in the next section is a partial list of symptoms that have been demonstrated to be allergic in nature.]

In reality, the immune response can be divided into four separate classifications. Type I allergies (immediate hypersensitivities) are your classic symptoms: hives, itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose. This represents less than 10 percent of the immune system and is mediated by the IgE type of antibody. This is the reaction that is elicited with a skin prick test.

Type II allergy reactions are mediated by the IgA antibodies which are found in the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes and digestive tract. They are also mediated by IgM and IgG and these two antibodies circulate through the bloodstream. They are delayed hypersensitivities and occur anywhere from four hours to four days after exposure. They are tested with IgG RAST blood testing, but it only gives you part of the picture for these allergies since the other types of reactions are not tested.

Type III allergy reactions are immune complement fixation reactions where the antigen and antibody react further with complement in the bloodstream causing further reactions. There is no isolated test for complement fixation reactions.

Type IV allergy reactions are cell activation reactions of the sort found in killer cells responding to tumors. They are mediated by the lectin/cytokine pathways and, with these reactions as well, there is no isolated test.

This is truly a case where the definition has limited the vision. Since doctors only believed that Type I allergies were important, they only tested for Type I allergies and they only saw Type I allergies.

At the RFHC we do a comprehensive whole blood test which will pinpoint Type II, III and IV allergies. Once you have pinpointed "hidden" allergies, Type I allergies become obvious since all of those reactions are very immediate. If you get a rash when you eat a strawberry, you are pretty clear that you're allergic to strawberries. Therefore, I seldom test for Type I immediate hypersensitivities. When that is necessary, we use an IgE blood test instead of pinprick because it has been demonstrated to be more reliable.

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With the upsurge in childhood asthma and autoimmune disease in the American culture, it is clear that allergies are becoming an increasing health challenge for many people. If you suspect that allergies are part of your health puzzle, please contact us here at the RFHC and we will be happy to arrange for testing.

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