What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction
that all mold victims should be aware of due to chances with re-exposure.
This is the extreme end of the
allergic spectrum. The whole body is affected, usually within minutes of
exposure to the repeated fungal exposure, but sometimes after hours. Other
causes can include food,
insect stings and drugs.
What are the symptoms?
- swelling of throat
difficulty in swallowing or speaking
alterations in heart rate
difficulty breathing - due to severe asthma
or throat swelling
hives anywhere on the body, especially large
generalized flushing, pin prickly feeling on the skin
abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting
sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood
sense of impending doom
collapse and unconsciousness
welts on the neck
Nobody would necessarily experience all of these symptoms. Some people
find that the symptoms they experience are always mild. For example, there
may be a tingling or itching in the mouth - nothing more. This is not
serious in itself, and may be treated with oral antihistamines.
Nevertheless, it is wise in all cases to make an appointment with the
doctor and seek a referral to a specialist allergy clinic.
Why does anaphylactic shock occur?
Any allergic or shock reaction, including the most extreme form, anaphylactic
shock, occurs because the body's immune system over-reacts in response to
the presence of a foreign body, in this case, toxic mold; which it wrongly perceives as a threat.
What exactly is going on?
An anaphylactic reaction is caused by the sudden release of chemical
substances, including histamine, from cells in the blood and tissues where
they are stored. The release is triggered by the reaction between the
allergic sort of antibodies (IgE) with the substance (allergen) causing
the anaphylactic reaction. This mechanism is so sensitive that
unbelievably small quantities of the allergen can cause a reaction. The
released chemicals act on blood vessels to cause the swelling and low
blood pressure, and on the lungs to cause asthma.
How do I know if I am at risk from anaphylactic shock?
If you have suffered a bad allergic reaction in the past, then any future
reaction may also be severe. You should see your GP and insist on a
referral to a specialist allergy clinic. If you have asthma as well as
allergies, a referral is particularly important. Your GP should have an
NHS allergy clinic handbook, approved by the British Society for Allergy
and Clinical Immunology. Where nuts and seeds are concerned, even mild
symptoms should be regarded as possible warning signs. Again, an
assessment by a specialist is vital. Allergic reactions are unpredictable
and may vary in severity from one time to the next.
What are the most common causes of anaphylactic shock?
Among the most common causes are: peanuts; nuts; toxigenic fungi; sesame; fish; shellfish;
dairy products; eggs; wasp or bee stings; natural latex (rubber);
penicillin or any drug or injection. Severe allergic reactions to fresh
fruit are also sometimes reported. In some individuals, exercise can
trigger a reaction - either on its own, or in combination with other
factors such as ingestion of a particular food.
How can the specialist know how allergic/toxic I am?
The honest answer is that he can't be certain. There is, as yet, no
perfect way of measuring an individual's potential for a severe allergic
response. It is even more difficult in young children. But the consultant
can do several things which will provide valuable clues.
History: The specialist will take a detailed history of previous
reactions and other allergic conditions you may have: such as fungal
rhinitis (runny nose), eczema; and especially asthma. If you are
asthmatic, the specialist will want to know how severe it is and how well
you manage it. The specialist may also perform a physical examination. It
is important to tell the specialist if you are taking any medication.
Skin prick tests: Small amounts of the suspected allergens are
inserted into a series of shallow pinpricks on the arm or back. If you are
allergic, say, to egg, the site of that pinprick will develop a red wheal
and flare within 15 minutes. The size of the wheal and flare gives some
idea of the degree of your reactivity to that particular allergen. Skin
prick tests for food allergies appear to be slightly less reliable than
for other allergies and false negatives can occur.
Blood tests: R.A.S.T. (radio-allergosorbent) or Cap assay tests
involve taking a small sample of blood. They indicate the degree of
reactivity to a specific substance. But they are more expensive and
time-consuming and the results do not always reflect the real life
situation. In mold victims, there are a series of IgG tests that one
How can I avoid anaphylactic shock?
- Minimize the risk. Be
vigilant about exposure to the toxigenic molds. This may sound very
difficult and in many cases it is. One patient points out to me
that she feels as though she is in prison. She goes from her home
that is carefully bathed in ultraviolet rays, into her new car, that has
been carefully baked out, to her office that is also under the same
effects of UV filtering. She can barely tolerate going to simple
places such as the grocery store. Re-exposure is the main
reason why mold patients have anaphylactic shock. This can
pose a very serious problem.
- Be assertive about
asking for detailed information about foods from manufacturers and
restaurants. The more we ask, the more they will understand the
importance of accurate, detailed ingredient lists. Did you know
that it is still impossible to obtain the information on ingredients in
airline food? The United States Government has done nothing to
stop this, either. In most cases, however, it is rather easy to
look at labels and see if they coincide with the
- Be particularly careful
in restaurants, where proprietors are under no obligation to list
ingredients. Question staff very directly. It may be necessary to speak
with a senior manager. Remember that staff may not be fluent in English;
or the chef may be especially creative and may like to throw in a
handful of something extra for flavor or texture. Fast food chains,
like Macdonald's, have stricter quality control than the corner takeaway
and may have ingredient lists available for you to check.
Currently, the chicken flatbread sandwich without the sauce or cheese,
available at Macdonald's works well with the diet, and is somewhat
healthy, for fast food.
- Be alert to all
symptoms! Don't kid yourself - denial of the symptoms is foolish. Call
911 if you have an emergency. Sometimes this shock can last for a
- Develop a crisis plan
for how to handle an emergency. Get your allergist or GP to help. Have
this written out for family and friends - put it on the bulletin board
at home; carry one in your pocket. If a child is the person at risk,
make sure his teachers and friends' parents have a copy.
- Be open about your
allergy/mold toxicity problem with your family, friends and colleagues. It's easy to
avoid a deli restaurant if everyone knows you cannot eat processed meats
and breads with yeast.
What should I do if I think I am having a fungal anaphylactic reaction?
Follow your crisis plan.
These are some key points:
- Is there a marked
difficulty in breathing or swallowing? Is there sudden weakness or
floppiness? Is there a steady deterioration? Any of these are signs of a
- Dial 999 or get
someone else to do it. Drink lots of water, preferably distilled,
not mineral. Get fresh air. Try to slow down on your
breathing. Put a cool cloth or wet napkin on the back of your
neck. Take your charcoal and oregano oil capsules, if that is part
of your protocol. (see treatments).
This site is not intended to give medical advice. Seek
the advice of a professional for medication, treatment options, and complete
knowledge of any symptoms or illness. The opinions expressed here are
exclusively my personal opinions do not necessarily reflect my peers or
professional affiliates. The information here does not reflect professional
advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.