Allergic Reactions can Build Up with Time

by Allergy Guy

Allergic reactions can build up with time, then reduce, only to build again with exposure. Take this story from one of our readers, Sara:

When I started having anaphylaxis they did allergy testing. They found I was allergic to all legumes especially soy. However, I had eaten soy in between reactions with no problem. I had one anaphylaxis reaction in 2008, and then the didn’t come back until 2009 and I was in the hospital randomly. Maybe 9 times that year and for the next five years. Finally I figured it out on my own. (Since all my allergists said I wouldn’t ever figure it out since it seemed so random) but my reactions were in fact to soy. I could eat it once and feel fine, Then if I ate it again I would get a stomach ache, if I continued to eat it I would eventually have anaphylaxis. Soy was in everything!!!! So it was easy to get exposed and not realize. It was a build up that caused it. The allergists said that couldn’t happen, but that was my case.

This of course is anecdotal, and should not be mistaken for science or as a universal truth about allergies. It does illustrate a point, actually two.

One point is that occasional exposure to an allergen, followed by sufficient “rest” can have a much lower effect on your body than repeated exposures. There could be a number of reasons for this which I will not explore here, but it is worth watching out for.

Some people find they can eat food to which they are allergic occasionally, if they don’t have too much. Some would argue that this is not a true allergy, that it is instead a food sensitivity. I don’t think symantics helps us allergy sufferers too much when it comes to avoidance.

Depending on your symptoms, you may feel it is worth the occasional break from a strict diet to enjoy your favorite “sin” food. I hope you will not risk this in the case of serious allergic reaction. Also, please be aware that we tend to be “addicted” to the foods that we are allergic to.

Another point is that sometimes you know better than your doctor. I’m not putting down doctors, they are very helpful and in the above story, it was medical testing that highlighted soy as a prime allergen for Sara. The fact is that an individual can notice patterns in their own lives that doctors can miss. This is subject to the individuals biases of course but it is well worth keeping an eye on your health and how different external factors, such as food, weather, mold exposure etc. may be affecting you.

What are your experiences with allergic reactions building up if you are exposed too often? Please leave a comment.

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