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 and mouth
  • 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 hives

  • generalized flushing, pin prickly feeling on the skin

  • abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting

  • sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)

  • 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 exposure, 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 must take.

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 diet.
  • 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 long time.
  • 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 serious reaction.
  • 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). logo button

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.