There is a difference between allergic rhinitis and nonallergic rhinitis.
NONALLERGIC RHINITIS does not involve the immune system. It’s symptoms (postnasal drip, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose) resembles an allergy, but it occurs without a known cause (environmental irritants can trigger it). It has the same complications as allergic rhinitis e.g. sinusitis, Eustachian tube dysfunction, chronic ear infection, loss of smell, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea. Because the two are similar, it’s necessary to perform allergy tests and blood tests to tell them apart.
ALLERGIC RHINITIS is a group of symptoms that affect the nose. Allergic rhinitis occurs when the immune system overreacts to normally harmful substances that you have inhaled (allergens). Allergic rhinitis may be seasonal or perennial. Seasonal (outdoor) allergic rhinitis, known as hay fever, are caused by pollens. Perennial (year round and indoor) allergic rhinitis are caused by dust, mites, pet dander and mold. An allergic reaction begins when the IgE antibodies (on surface of mast cells), encounter an allergen. These antibodies cause the mast cells to release histamine in large quantities. Excess histamine causes an extreme inflammatory response, or an allergic reaction.
Dr. Robert Buist states in his book “Food Intolerance” that,
- whenever staple foods are withdrawn completely/reduced from a diet, possible NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES can occur:
When we withdraw milk products from the diet, it is imperative that the alternative foods, substitute the two vitamins, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and calcium. When a pyridoxine (vitamin B6) supplement is used together with a dairy-free diet, the potential for a riboflavin deficiency is quite high – vitamin B6 uses up vitamin B2 in it’s biological reactions. Symptoms like a sore purplish tongue and gritty, burning light sensitive eyes, cracked lips, hair loss and eczema could be reversed by administering vitamin B2.
NOTE: we can easily mistake deficiency signs for actual manifestations of allergic reactions.
1.The cytotoxic food allergy test:
This is a test where the patient’s blood is exposed to potential allergenic foods. A sample of blood is taken and the white blood cells are separated from the red cells using a centrifuge. These cells is placed on a microscope slide which has a thin coating of the food extract on the surface. Over 100 foods or chemicals may be tested in this way. Cellular changes in the white blood cells on exposure to these allergens are graded slight, moderate or severe (cells swell or can break open).
4 days before the test, patients should discontinue the use of cortisone (doctor’s supervision). Within 2 days before the test, no antihistamines, decongestants, vitamin or herbal preparations are taken. 12 hours before the test, food and beverages should be discontinued, with the exception of spring or mineral water.
Advantages of this test
- to uncover a possible food sensitivity that has been missed after dietary manipulation.
- test results can be inconsistent. If the reactive food has not been consumed within several weeks before testing, false negative results may occur. Therefore patients should eat a wide variety of all potential allergens before the test. Seasonal food allergens, which are in the diet for a limited time, could be missed as well.
- Symptoms can’t be reproduced by the test- there is still no relationship between the foods and the patient’s symptoms
Lactose intolerance is an inability to digest lactose, the main sugar in milk – it is not the same as a food allergy to milk.
- Lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of the intestinal enzyme, lactase, that splits lactose into two smaller sugars, glucose and galactose. When lactose moves through the colon without being properly digested, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as diarrhea, flatulence (gas), abdominal pain and bloating and even nausea. Lactase deficiency may occur for one of three reasons: congenital, secondary or developmental.
- Congenital causes – lactase deficiency is absent from birth due to a mutation in the gene that is responsible for producing lactase. This is very rare. A person born with lactose intolerance, cannot eat or drink anything with lactose. Some premature babies have temporary lactose intolerance, because they are not yet able to make lactase. After a baby begins to make lactase, the condition goes away.
- Secondary causes – due to diseases that destroy the small intestinal lining along with lactase e.g. celiac sprue. Sometimes the small intestine stops making lactase after a short-term illness (stomach flu) OR as part of a lifelong disease (cystic fibrosis) OR after surgery with removal of a part of the small intestine. Therefore, the problem can be either permanent or temporary.
- Developmental causes – the most common cause of lactase deficiency is a decrease in the amount of lactase that occurs after childhood and persist in adulthood (adult-type hypolactasia). This decrease in lactase is genetically programmed and it varies in the different ethnic groups. It is most common among Asians (more than 90% of adults in some communities); as well as in Africans, South Americans and native Americans. Northern Europeans have a 5% rate of lactose intolerance. There is also a variability in the age at which the lactose intolerance occur.
Food allergies and food intolerance are quite different in terms of their origin, symptoms and treatment.
ALLERGIC REACTIONS involve the body’s immune system. When the body identifies a food as harmful, the white blood cells produces antibodies directed against that food and become sensitized. The next time the food is consumed, the body mounts an immune response with the release of histamine and other chemicals that trigger allergic symptoms. An example of a food allergy is to peanuts. With a food allergy, symptoms may occur almost immediately or up to hours after consuming the particular food. These symptoms may affect the respiratory, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system or the skin.