Monday, January 22, 2007

The problem of food intolerance

Attached is today's full Englemed News report on Allergy UK's campaign to highlight food intolerance.

The campaign makes some good points. I was lucky, in a way, that when I eventually went to my GP I had very clear symptoms in my mouth and throat. I received no advice on diet from my GP.

I thought with good reason that I had a wheat allergy. Some of the headlines today refer to "pasta problems". In fact my problem was the tomatoes, herbs and olive oil - all that healthy Mediterranean food. It took months to see a consultant and longer still to get the results of IGE tests. We excluded salicylate allergy early on because I thought I took aspirin, probably soluble, when the throat and tongue swelling became an obvious problem. We then gave it another look. This allergy hardly features on anyone's radar except as aspirin allergy. My dietician said she had only previously come across the problem as a cause of eczema. And it seems as if the scientific evidence on salicylate content of foods is limited and not especially consistent. So well done to my consultant who put together my clues which amounted to pasta, pizza, tomato and beer.

The specialists don't like the way people always jump to the conclusion that wheat is what's causing the problem. I guess it would be equally disturbing if salicylate allergy became fashionable, especially because it excludes almost all foods that are generally good for you, notably the red fruits and orange vegetables. The very few specialist salicylate sites, such as foodcanmakeyouill, seem to make some sense. It may well be that this is a natural substance to which quite a few people are overexposed. If that was so however, I would have thought the medical benefits of aspirin might have been called into question before now.

Here's that news report:
  • Almost half the British population are badly affected by the food they eat - suffering a range of symptoms, campaigners claimed today.
  • Some 45 per cent of people suffer from some kind of food intolerance, according to Allergy UK.
  • This compares with just two per cent diagnosed with serious food allergies, such as nut allergy, which can be life-threatening.
  • Results of a survey of some 5,200 people reporting food problems are to be published today in a report Stolen Lives.
  • The reports shows that sufferers feel their symptoms are treated "dismissively" by health professionals.
  • Recent surveys of GPs show that 70 per cent believe most complaints are in the mind, the organisation says. Scepticism is aggravated by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, who claims to be allergic to dairy products.
  • A spokesman for Allergy UK said: "They are left without proper guidance and advice despite the very significant impact on their lives. This in turns drives them to seek alternative and clinically unproven methods of diagnosis and treatment."
  • Allergy UK chief executive Muriel Simmons said: "Around 20 million people are suffering from symptoms that impact on their daily lives and yet they are not able to get help from the NHS.
  • "We want to see more dietary advice being available and more training given to GPs so that they can recognise that food could be the trigger for some of the symptoms that they are seeing on a daily basis."
  • Ms Simmons warned that the lack of advice was driving patients to "weird and wacky" diets and towards poorly qualified alternative practitioners.
  • She said: "They start off with one problem and this is compounded by bad dietary advice."


Unknown said...

I stubbled onto this site after an exhasuting search into why I have been covered by hives and plagued by vomitting... I have always had problems when it comes to taking aspirin, and have always loved and excessively eaten tomato products, specifically spahgetti and lasagna..
However out of the 3 times I have eaten tomato products last week, all 3 times I have developed hives and twice (after eating an almost excessive amount) have vomitted.
This is troubling as I have been eating and enjoying these foods my whole life, the only other time I have gtten hives (at 17, nearly 7 years ago) was when I had an allergic reation to the anti-biotic Amoxicillin... So the hives were an immediate indication of some sort of allergy, now I'm left wondering if since I spontaneously developed an allergy to Amoxicillin, maybe I also developed an allergy to tomato products as well...
Any help of info would be greatly appreciated as I have no clue into how serious this "allergy" or intolerance could become...
Thanks Amber, from: U.S.A.

pf said...

How do you get on with raw tomatoes?

If you are allergic to tomatoes or hypersensitive to salicylate the chances are that raw tomatoes will cause swelling or a blistering sensation on the tongue and some choking in the throat.

If it's salicylate quite a range of raw fruit and vegetable may cause a reaction in the mouth. Try avocado (egg-plant) for instance.

It's the reactions in the mouth and throat that get the problem recognised - although you need to be careful not to provoke anaphylactic reactions or choke yourself.

Hives suggests that it is allergy of some kind. Use the simple on-line tool linked in the latest posting on this blog - even though it doesn't recognise salicylate.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I've suffered with hives the last 5 year ever since i gave birth to my little girl, over the years I've got more headaches now itchy eye's & tummy pains, the only time it all went a way was when I was pregnante with my second child, the doc's cant realy do anything other than dish out antihistamines, i've spent the day checking out salicylate intolerance and it more that tick's all the boxes, 5 yrs of putting up with it, I think doc's should have more training in this field, I'm going to cut out salicylate from my diet, I'm realy hoping it works!

Anonymous said...

pf - Eggplant ( and Avocado ( are two different foods - however, both are foods for people with salicylate allergies to avoid!

borderline syndrom said...

If you are allergic to tomatoes or hypersensitive to salicylate the chances are that raw tomatoes will cause swelling or a blistering sensation on the tongue and some choking in the throat.