Friday, August 31, 2007

Confusing Results

Food allergies are never cut and dry. About a month ago I was eating Sunbutter (think squashed sunflower seeds, very yummy) and apple slices. I was dipping the slices in the sunbutter, getting it on my fingers. I usually wash my hands after but the phone rang. As I was chatting with a friend Owen wanted on my lap. I picked him up. After I hung up I played with him on the floor for a little while. Then I noticed the hives on his arms. Just to see, I smeared a little sunbutter on the back of his leg (DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU THINK YOUR CHILD IS ALLERGIC TO SOMETHING). He of course got hives on his leg. They seemed to be spreading both on his arms and legs and he was digging his fingers into his itchy arms. I began to panic a little. By this time I had washed my own hands three times. I stripped him down and put him in the bath tub and gently washed his body. I gave him a teapoon of Benedryl and called the allergist's office which was closed and then called the pediatrician. About 20 minutes after giving him the Benedryl the hives began to go away. I went to the peditrician anyway.

The allergist recommended we do a blood test to confirm the allergy and test for other seeds (sesame and poppy). I requested they also get a RAST reading on the allergen's he has had positive skin tests for (milk and egg).

So we got the results back last Friday. Milk 2.60. Damn. I was sure this would be lower given his fairly mild reactions. That number is higher than Max's RAST for milk has ever been and he is vomit all over the place, puffy face guy. Egg white .55 (>.35 is considered negative) and egg yolk >.35. Good numbers! Definate outgrowing kind of numbers. Poppy seed >.35. Sesame seed .44. Low but I would prefer sesame was negative. And here is the kicker: Sunflower seed. The conversation went something like this for this one:

Nurse: Sunflower - point two four.

Me: What?

Nurse: Sunflower - point two four.

Me: POINT two four

Nurse: Yes. Point two four

Me: Not TWO point four but POINT two four.

Nurse (clearly exasperated): POINT two four.

Me: Okay, I'm confused.

Before giving me the results she asked if I wanted to come in to talk to the doctor about them. I had said no just give me the numbers. I'm a seasoned FAM (food allergy Mom). I figured I knew what was what. Lots of hives, positive test, right? But now with the .24 Sunflower reading I'm really confused. How can he have such a stong reaction and basically be negative? Was the reaction to something else? If so what?

So I set up an appointment to see the doctor next Monday. Thing is I think I DO know what she'll say. "The tests just tell us the likelihood of a reaction. Nothing can tell us if a reaction will occur and how severe the reaction will be. So to be on the safe side avoid sunflower seeds and all sunflower seed products."

Easier said than done. Next time you are in a store pick up, say, a bag of tortilla chips and read the label. It will most likely say Contains: Safflower and/or Sunflower and/or Canola oil. Come on! Which is it? Pick an oil and stick with it for God's sake.

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