So it’s NOT allergies?

rhinitis

This spring has been terrible for my nose and throat. I assumed the cause. But it’s NOT allergies?

I would have coughing jags. One at church on May 8 was so severe that I had to leave the choir loft, lest I hack through the sermon. I seemed OK enough the following Wednesday to ride my bike a few days later to a memorial service for a choir member, then onto my Dad’s group at church. But by the time I rode home, I couldn’t get enough air. This wasn’t the not-fit-enough response, but the my-lungs-feel-awful scenario.

The next morning, I had another coughing event WHILE I was taking my blood pressure. That 168 systolic reading WAS an aberration. Later, I went to my allergist. To test whether the allergy shots I took for about five years, but hadn’t taken in for just as long, I had to stop taking Zyrtec for three days. So I was pretty miserable when I once again became a human pincushion.

It’s all in my nose

But surprise! I have rhinitis, which “is moderate to severe and not well controlled.” But I have “no evidence of remaining sensitivity to tree or grass pollens based upon negative skin tests to these allergens.” I AM still allergic to ragweed, but that’s a late summer thing. “A second course of immunotherapy is not recommended.” So I’m still using nasal sprays in the morning and evening.

Then am I ill? I went to the local urgent care place as a walk-in the following Saturday. The hour-long wait turned out to be 210 minutes. Did I want a COVID test? Sure, why not? And just as the rapid tests have shown, I still don’t have it.

It’s a strange thing having symptoms that COULD be COVID. Almost any bodily reaction COULD be COVID. And with the recent spread into the Mid-Atlantic and upper Midwest, I suppose I need to continue mask indoors. So far, so good.

Monkeypox

Oh, and it’s not monkeypox, people. Some people I know IRL are fretting, “First COVID, now this.” Not yet.  Another person I know IRL believes that it’s a WHO plot to inject us again.

Maladies Melodies Allergies

my second COVID booster

There’s a Paul Simon song that starts Maladies Melodies Allergies. I so relate.

My allergies to pollen and the like have been quite severe this season, the worst in years. They were so awful that every time my head hit the pillow at night, within five minutes, I would start to cough uncontrollably. Even trying to sleep with my head propped up wasn’t sufficient. One night I woke up four times, after about 90 minutes each time.

Finally, I started taking the generic version of Nyquil just so I could sleep for six hours in a row. It has a cough suppressant and a nasal decongestant. Likewise, my daughter suffers from seasonal allergies which affect her sleep. She actually stayed home from school a day last week, from sheer fatigue.

I decided that we should each take a home COVID test. As I expected, they were both negative. The other motivation for mine was that I was scheduled to get a second COVID booster. I understand that getting the booster while you actually have COVID is contraindicated. Incidentally, I had no bad reaction, as usual, as long as I didn’t lean my arm on the injection site.

We now have several COVID test kits, some from that time not so long ago when they were a bit difficult to come by. Now they are practically ubiquitous, which is good since I’ve used them a total of thrice in a week. The CDC guidelines in Albany County changed this past Thursday from GREEN to YELLOW, which means masking is no longer optional in church. So before Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday, I took a rapid test.

Expiry

I was curious about the fact that all the tests we currently own have an expiration date of June 30. This article from Health News Hub states: “The Food and Drug Administration countered Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance by extending their expiration dates. The FDA says it’s OK to add three months to any expiration date printed on a test kit box. (The BinaxNow test kit received FDA approval for an extended shelf life after tests showed the kit components were effective for up to 15 months.)

“Beyond the extended expiration date, results are not reliable.”

Also: “Most manufacturers of at-home tests recommend storing the kits between 35 degrees and 86 degrees. The greatest threat now is delivery during the cold winter months. A test kit left for a day or more in your mailbox at frigid temperatures could freeze the liquid reagent inside a cartridge that comes with the kit, invalidating the test results.”

So, if you see me going into a coughing jag, it’s unlikely that I am spreading COVID, only hay fever. It’s because I’m going to be getting used to sticking a cotton swab up my nose for a while.

Oh, yeah, that Paul Simon song.

Am I allergic to penicillin?

Over-diagnosed and Under-addressed

penicillinMy allergist’s office sent me, and I suspect, many other patients a letter this autumn. I was genuinely excited to receive it. The notice indicated as this FAQ suggests, that “the majority of patients (greater than 90%)” who believe they have an allergy to penicillin may not be. “Most people lose their penicillin allergy over time, even patients with a history of severe reaction such as anaphylaxis.”

Why did I think I was allergic? I was 16 to 18 years old, but it was definitely before I went to college. I had a cold or maybe the flu that lingered. My doctor gave me a shot of penicillin. In fairly short order, I itched like crazy, especially on my arms. For three days, calamine lotion became my best friend. It was so PINK.

On Veterans Day 2020, I received a penicillin skin test. I got poked four times on my forearm. The fourth one itched a bit; that was a marker to make sure I had not in fact taken an antihistamine such as Zyrtec in the past 72 hours, as instructed. I passed that hurdle. Then a couple more series of tests. The whole procedure took about three hours, including talking with my allergist afterward.

There is a good reason for me to know this information. If I were to have major surgery, such as for this situation, one doesn’t want to deal with the complicating factor of this patient having a bad reaction from the antibiotic.

Go to the link above for a couple of podcasts, including Penicillin Allergies: Over-diagnosed and Under-addressed.

The peanut

Since we’re on the broad topic, my daughter is for sure allergic to peanuts. I found this article on the nose. ” Things I Wish I’d Known About Raising A Child With A Peanut Allergy. My daughter’s diagnosis made me realize just how misunderstood life-threatening allergies are.” That is for CERTAIN, especially when she was younger.

The plan is for her to be in one of those trials that will, over time, to become acclimated to small bits of peanut. Unfortunately, because of COVID, that testing, to take place over several weeks, has been postponed. I do hope she gets the chance to participate in the next year.

The Lydster, Part 147: Oh, nuts!

This doesn’t alter our protocol in terms of looking for allergens in foods.

Mixed NutsWhen she was about three, we discovered that the Daughter was allergic to peanuts. We discovered this after we ascertained that she’d had peanut butter (one sandwich, one cookie) under someone else’s care.

Frustratingly, we had been following the then-conventional wisdom to have her avoid the legume. Current thinking is that she should have been introduced to them earlier.

This spring, she was retested for peanuts, and she is still allergic to them, though her reaction was less than the last time she was checked. She’s not a good candidate for those peanut allergy cures you may have seen in the news.

Worse, she also tested positive this last visit for several tree nut allergies and now must avoid having them as well. This doesn’t alter our protocol in terms of looking for allergens in foods, though. Since peanuts and tree nuts are often processed in the same place, we’ve been preemptively avoiding those as well. Has THIS backfired?

Her doctor says, at her age, she is likely to have both of these allergies for the rest of her life. No change to medication – still keeping the Epi-pen and Benadryl at the ready, at same doses.

This has to be a drag for her because it sets her apart from others. Still, with all the various allergies to foods in our extended family, to gluten, and to dairy, she’s at least in the same boat as her cousins, e.g.

The Lydster, Part 126: Allergies

Cats, and in particular, Midnight and Stormy, The Daughter LOVES.

looks like a young Stormy
looks like a young Stormy
The Daughter went to the allergist in early August to get a skin test. She tested positive for dust mites, plus pollens in grass, ash, birch, beech, maple, oak and poplar. These were previously known.

The new wrinkle: she’s now allergic to cats.

As noted, we got two cats last year. Continue reading “The Lydster, Part 126: Allergies”

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