Category Archives: Allergy Levels

Allergy Classification

Before I post explaining what I am learning about the components of certain allergies, let me first explain how allergies are classified. There are six levels/classes associated with allergies. When you have a blood test done, it is looking for the level of immunoglobulin (IgE), an antibody in the blood.  These substances are created by the body as a response to certain allergens.  TJ’s immune system detects and labels all of the foods that he is allergic to as harmful invaders, thus attacking them.

If you are not allergic to the food, you are a class 0. The table below has the classes based on IgE levels. The greater the amount of IgE present in your body for a specific food, the greater the risk of a more serious reaction, such as anaphylaxis. From what I am told, a high level does not mean anaphylaxis will definitely happen.  Instead, there is a higher risk of it. Sometimes though, allergy testing even through blood is inaccurate.

Despite all of the allergies,  there are many foods that TJ tested as a class 0 for. These include buck wheat, corn, rice, beef, chicken, turkey, apples, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, pears, peaches, sun flower,cranberries, avocados, squash, string beans, chick peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes and some others.

Although some of these class 0 foods will cause TJ’s eczema to flare up a little bit at times because they are  histamine-rich foods. During the winter these “safe-food flare ups” occurred much more often then they do now, therefore, we continue to smile on…

Levels of IgE Class # Description TJ’s Allergies Based on Class
<0.10 0 Negative/Not allergic
0.10-0.31 0/I Low/Equivocal
0.32-0.55 I Low
0.56-1.40 II Moderate Coconut, Sesame, Pistachio, (Soy & Peas were both in this class; however, after food challenges, it was discovered he is not allergic to them.)
1.41-3.90 III High Hazelnut, Almond, Egg Yolk, Barley
3.91-19.00 IV Very High Rye, Oat, Wheat, Egg Whites, Peanuts,
19.01-100.00 V Very High Dairy
>100.00 VI Very High

Round 4 Results Are In

To start, TJ’s hemoglobin and iron levels are all in the normal range! What amazing news! Despite his very restricted and limited diet, we did not need to use an iron supplement to bring up his slightly low levels.  Instead, we just added in iron wherever we could for the past three months and it worked! What a relief and confirmation that we are indeed following the right directions, taking the best steps for TJ through this journey.

Since we needed this blood work done anyways, we had more food allergy testing done as well.  We tested current levels of some grains and the components of peanuts and dairy to gain more information about those specific allergies. Right now, I am waiting to hear back regarding what everything means.  After that, I will post more explaining the breakdowns of the components.

However, what I do know is that his body isn’t ready to outgrow any of his current allergies yet, which is totally okay.   With day care and going back to work again just around the corner, I will definitely need to make sure that every staff member is fully informed of his allergies and the current severity of some of them. For example, they need to understand that based on the breakdowns and current levels, the dairy and peanut allergies could be anaphylactic. The fact that his classroom is already a peanut/tree nut free classroom is definitely a relief.  On the other hand, dairy is everywhere so certain practices and activities need to be regulated and watched carefully for TJ’s absolute safety. My initial reaction is always to start worrying about this, becoming anxious of September.   However,  that is no longer an option for me, for us. I just need to ensure all staff members that come into contact with TJ are fully informed and prepared.  We already had his Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan updated and copied for them.   Sometimes or most times, I wish I could just stay at home with him and protect him from the unknown. However, those are not the cards we have been dealt.

On what I believe to be another positive note, there is a declining trend happening though with his wheat, peanut, and cow’s milk allergies.  While I am no doctor and far from one, I feel like this is definitely a positive sign.   However,  I asked my doctors and am waiting to hear back.

Wheat

In December: 6.14

In April: 6.43

(Now) in August: 5.50

Milk

In December: 16.9

In April: 53

(Now) in August: 33.20

Peanuts

In December: 6.3

In April: 4.5

(Now) in August: 4.22

Every time we have another set of blood testing done and I wait for the results, deep down I pray for a miracle, that I open up all of the results and he has outgrown all of them. Not one or two, but all of them.  It’s funny how irrational this is when you base it on the facts of food allergies. Yet, despite those facts and that my dreams have no scientific evidence behind them, they give me something more powerful than any statistic.  They provide me with hope.  Hey a girl can dream! After all, “miracles start to happen when you give as much energy to your dreams as you do to your fears.

I truly believe that TJ will out grow his allergies, but that his body just isn’t ready yet.  Today was the first time that I read through his results and did not break down in tears of fear.  Instead, I felt a strong and strange sense of peace because we are truly blessed. The time will come when his body is ready but in the meantime we need to continue to keep living life to the fullest and smiling on…

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

Blood Work Round 4

Since December, TJ has had three rounds of allergy testing through blood work.  Today, will be round 4.   TJ is currently allergic to dairy, eggs, wheat, barley, oats, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, and coconut.   He is no longer allergic to soy and peas.

Here is a quick recap:

Round 1 (December 2014): Initial testing to test for all of the foods in a jar of baby food that caused hives at day care. This is the round that told us that he was allergic to oats and barley.  This was in addition to the already known allergies of dairy, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, and peanuts.  Unfortunately, we found these out after his initial anaphylactic reaction to his first taste of yogurt aka scariest night of my life.

My Reaction: Whenever TJ is around, I put all of my energy into being happy around him. However, the second he is at day care or sleeping, I am a mess.  I cried a lot through my winter break from work.   Even after I went back to work, I cried when anyone asked me how TJ was and even when I was alone during my daily breaks.   Honestly, my tears were constant because I was terrified of everything. From being along with TJ, to being the cause of these allergies, to any food he ate or I ate, regardless of blood testing,  I was living in total fear.


Round 2 (January 2015): Since he was still having random hives and red rashes despite both of our elimination diets, I wanted to make sure that he was not allergic to soy since I was now consuming a lot of it.  Soy had only been tested for with a skin test.  This type of testing is not accurate for someone like TJ who has dermatographic urticaria as well. Because of this, TJ’s skin is hyper sensitive and reacts much more to irritation than the typical person’s skin. Through this testing, we found out that TJ was allergic to soy, sesame, and coconut.

My Reaction: I had been nursing TJ when I noticed these lab results had been posted to our online portal system.   Before opening the results, I remember distinctly praying to God that if TJ was not allergic to soy or anything else new, we would be okay.  I also promised that I would snap out of this world of depression and anxiety that I was living in.   However, my plan was not the plan that God had for us.   Instead, he tested positive for these allergies and we cut more and more out of our diets.  I fell deeper into a black hole of anxiety as my fear intensified.  


Round 3 (April 2015): I was still breastfeeding on an elimination diet of all of his allergies and TJ was eating the very basics: fruits, vegetables, some meat, buck wheat.  All of his unsafe foods were tested and soy, sesame, and peanuts went down. Peas at a 0.5 was added to the unsafe list or so they thought. (Later, we learned after a food challenge that his body was not allergic to peas.   Now, he loves and eats peas almost every day.)  Dairy jumped up very high and eggs got slightly higher. The rest stayed about the same according to the numbers.

Unfortunately, we also learned that his hemoglobin/iron levels were slightly lower than they should be.   After meeting with a nutritionist, our pediatrician, and two allergists about this, there were two different positions on what we should do about bringing this level up as quickly as possible.   Some thought an iron supplement was crucial; however, in the end, we decided to follow our pediatrician’s stand on it.   She strongly believed that the level was slightly low due to TJ’s very restricted diet.  She wanted us to add more of the safe foods to his diet that could bring up this level such as beef, turkey, and iron fortified foods.  It is important to explain how scary it was to even add these safe foods  because of his eczema and skin sensitivity. Sometimes, even a safe food would cause his eczema to flare up a little bit.


My Reaction:  By April, I had started to climb out of the hole that I had allowed my anxiety and fear to throw me into.  Like I had done during other times of anxiety in my life, I began to retrain my brain and way of thinking.  For every negative thought or worry I had, I made myself think of three positives ones.  Instead of spending my time crying about our situation and that I could not change it, worrying about everything that could go wrong every day, I embraced myself in scripture and quotes about faith like the ones below.

I began to believe that God was going to perform a miracle and take all of TJ’s allergies away.   I put all of my faith in the belief that He was going to do this.  However, once again, I was thinking of only my timetable.   I chose not to plan ahead or think about what our life would be like with a toddler with multiple food allergies.   Instead, I trusted that all of them would miraculously disappear and be revealed through this round of testing.  While it may make me look beyond naive, uneducated, and even delusional about food allergies and the scientific facts, it was what I needed to do at that time to gain strength to climb, step by step, out of the darkness I was living in. I needed to do it for TJ, for my husband, for myself, for us. Therefore, when I got those results, I cried my eyes out to some amazing people at work in an auditorium full of middle school students. (Thanks again guys for always listening!)   I cried not because I didn’t have faith anymore but instead that I knew God was challenging me, he had different plans much bigger than mine. I needed to stop fighting them and instead, once again embrace them by continuing this journey.

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear.”

“Faith – it does not make things easy.  It makes them possible.”

“Faith is not believing that God can.  It’s knowing that He will.”

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

“With God, all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26


Round 4 (August 2015): This afternoon will be round 4, mainly to test his hemoglobin/iron levels to make sure that with his broadened diet, his levels are in the normal range and where they should be again.  In addition, our allergist is testing wheat, sesame, barley, and rye as well as the components of dairy and peanuts.   We asked to test wheat and sesame because those are potentially the next two food challenges.   After the coconut milk challenge did not go well, I am not comfortable doing challenges with sesame and wheat if either has not gone away or dropped significantly. Barley and rye are being tested because TJ’s diet is very limited with his grain intake and we are always looking for ways to increase that.   The components of dairy and peanuts will help to better understand the allergies and his likelihood of outgrowing them.

Since April, so much has changed.  However, the biggest change is that I am not living in fear anymore.  Instead of just trusting that God will answer our prayers, I have a new understanding of it all.  I was trying to convince God that I would be okay if he changed our circumstances to the way we wanted them, the way we had imagined them.   However, He was trying to show me that we would be more than just okay even if he didn’t.  Now, I trust that He is leading us to where we need to be, protecting TJ, and all of us along the way.  Therefore, while I am not sure what today’s blood work results will reveal, I am confident that we will be able to walk on, living for today, having faith in our tomorrows, and like TJ does so very well, smiling on because we have so much to be thankful for in the meantime…

Allergy Levels

Until recently, I have obsessed about TJ’s blood tested allergy levels. When his dairy level came back so high in April, we, or rather I, panicked.  I just kept asking myself how his dairy allergy could have gotten so much higher when we both were not consuming any dairy at all.  I drove myself nuts wondering…

Was it cross contamination?

Was it exposure at day care?

Was it from the Puffs that were produced on equipment that handle dairy despite them following cleaning codes?

The questions and obsessive thoughts just kept coming and no matter how many emails I sent or phone calls I made about the issue, no answer was in sight.  However, what I should have done back then was listen to our allergist.  In a weird way, I don’t think I was ready to just give in to the thought that I had no control over much of this.

Anyways, TJ’s main allergist as always explained to us that the numbers only show the likelihood of a reaction, not severity. They can change from day to day and aren’t even super reliable.  You can have false positives which is why in-office food challenges are the only true way to know if one if allergic to a food.

The following site explains this further…

https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/allergy/tab/test/#what

TJ’S LEVELS IN DECEMBER AND APRIL

IMG_6946

Notes: Peas and Soy were both either false positives or outgrown.  In my heart, I believe they were false positives.  Coconut is a true allergy that caused mild vomiting despite being so low in numbers.