Figuring out food allergies….
Well. We have been having just a lovely time here at our house! My little Spike Spike has horrible food allergies that we have been trying to pin point. Some of his allergies cause a skin rash, eczema, that is nasty red and puffy and it itches. He is just two so he scratches it and scratches it until it is cracked and bleeding. There isn’t a lot we can do to keep him from scratching it because he usually does most of the damage at night while he is suppose to be sleeping. And yes, with all of our experience on the subject we have tried almost every cream, lotion, oil, or prescription known to man. The tops of his little feet have been horrible and recently his rash has spread to the creases of his knees and elbows. Poor little guy.
Other allergies cause his nose to be completely stuffy and congested with mucous, including fluid in his ears. It is really annoying. Still others cause him not to sleep. Sheesh! This week, we have all three: eczema, stuffy nose, and not sleeping!
Drew and I are both allergic to milk. So far, each of my children have been too. It is definitely a problem when they are little. They can tolerate it as they get older, but even the oldest boys have decided they too are really allergic to it and they have started cutting it out of their diets too. The only milk Spike Spike was getting was butter. He wasn’t eating any other milk products: No ice cream, sour cream, creamed soups, breads with milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese (Parmesan or other, even in salad dressing–no ranch, blue cheese, Caesar, etc…) I stuck all of that out there because if you are trying to eliminate milk, it is everywhere and you really have to be careful. Read every label!! Anything with whey —- that’s milk!
Drew still drank milk and so did some of the kids once in a while and periodically, I would break down and purchase cheese. With Spike Spike’s allergies just going crazy, about a week ago, I declared our house officially dairy free! The kids all kind of panicked, but they got over it. I was hoping that by eliminating all of it, once and for all, Spike’s eczema would dissipate. It hasn’t! Drat!
So on we move to other eliminations!! I took honey out, thinking that might help. Nothing so far.
Of course, my best ally is prayer! I pray to help me see things that will lead me to the offending culprit. Please help me figure out what this child is allergic to!!! With Spike, here is our list so far: all nuts (especially peanuts and walnuts) [the others of our children who are allergic to nuts are not allergic to almonds, interestingly enough—-however, I am beginning to suspect that is not the case with Spike], all milk products, any processed meat (I think it is the nitrates, but don’t know for sure). This week, when I changed from cow’s milk to almond milk, specifically, Spike’s nose has been clogged and his skin is drier and itchier, and he hasn’t been sleeping for five nights now. Exhausting!
Last night, we finally had a break through in that I decided to give him a different nasal decongestant and it worked! Benadryl was not working. I think he hasn’t been sleeping because even when he is asleep, he insists on trying to breath through his nose. Then he wakes up because he isn’t getting enough oxygen. Falls back asleep, tries to breath through his nose, tosses and turns because he isn’t getting enough oxygen and then wakes up again, repeat 100 times. (That was last night in between the doses of medication that worked.) My personal philosophy, however, is to administer as few medications as possible. But in order to do that, we have to find the offending item, which is a lot more work than just medicating my child. But then when we do the work, we never have to worry again because we can just eliminate the culprit!
Yesterday, as I realized that most of these issues began when I made the switch to almond milk and then when my brilliant brain put the two together, I decided to eliminate the almond milk and see how things go. The trick with eliminating things is remembering that once you have been exposed to the allergen, it usually takes a full four days to get it completely out of your system. So it is best to eliminate it for about a week before you try to add it back. Yesterday was day one. Three more to go before I will know if eliminating it makes a difference. Six more days before Spike goes there again.
Another issue that might get in the way of figuring things out is if you have multiple people feeding your little one or heaven forbid, they are already old enough to make and get their own food. It is best to figure it out when they are little and you have total control over what they are eating. If you send them to daycare, even if you give instructions, there is no guarantee they are going to follow your wishes. They will probably say, ya, sure, and then do what they want and what works best for them. Because the truth be told, they are not watching your child because they are concerned with what is best for the child. I have had to let all of my older children know, “These are the no-no foods for Spike this week!” and then remember to tell each of them because they are not usually in the same place at the same time!
Scuff told me a few years ago that every morning of seventh and eighth grade he went into the breakfast room after I dropped him at school and got a pop-tart! That boy is allergic to corn and pop-tarts are laced with them! It is no wonder that his middle-school years were so difficult to manage. (His allergy manifests itself as behavior issues. He is the most wonderful and happy person unless he has had corn. Then he is defiant, belligerent, uncooperative, feisty, he hits, throws things, yells, screams—-it is really, really ugly!)
Of course, with all of this, it is possible that my little guy just has a cold! So we have to wait that out too and weigh it into the equation. Good thing I was an adept student and really understood that whole ‘scientific method’ thingy. I never thought I would use it as a mother! But in my attempt to uncover food allergies, that principle has been one of my best friends! I could not have had as many children as I do without being able to eliminate so many offending issues!
The first two boys had tons and tons of skin issues as I was learning and figuring things out. Poor Spanky was a miserable little baby because I think I kept feeding him things he was allergic to. The colic and screaming and not sleeping—-it was just awful! But by the time Scuff showed up, I had the idea that maybe what I was eating was bothering the baby and we began to try to figure it out. It was a good thing too because Scuff (at first) just didn’t sleep when he was exposed to corn. It took me six weeks and many, many doctor visits, and a lot of prayer to finally figure it out. That night where I loaded the entire dinner with corn and the baby didn’t sleep all night was pretty helpful too! It at least gave me a reference point to begin with and I started eliminating corn from my diet. Whenever the baby wouldn’t sleep well, I would go back through the last 24 hours worth of food and read all of the labels and almost always find corn. It was scary how many things had corn in them, but it was validating when I would find it on the list. Around three years-old, the allergy changed from not sleeping to behavior.
Well, now that you have read this and it is huge and you may or may not have allergy issues in your house, you know what has been happening here. Wish me luck and pray for me as we figure the next little bit out. I just really need to figure it out before May because I’m heading off to Slim’s college graduation!!! Four days!!! But other people will be feeding my little Spike, so I need to know what to tell them for sure, and make the separation as easy for him as possible!
Thanks for listening! If you have any allergy questions, feel free to email me. By no means am I an expert or a trained professional, but I do have plenty, plenty of personal experience. We know what anaphylaxis is and how to use an epi-pen! We also have some asthma related issues. Periodically, that is a problem too.
Allergies are just nasty (my personal opinion!)!