Post #39

Allergy testing

1st November 2003, lunch time | Comments (9)

Dr. Nick Riviera, from The Simpsons

By this wednesday, after exhausting every other option under the sun, I was down to three strategies for dealing with these darn mouth ulcers:

  1. Suddenly become 40 years old. (My doctor tells me they might just go of their own accord by middle age);
  2. Sleep twelve hours a day and spend the other twelve doing aerobics and eating vegetables;
  3. Get tested for allergies.

Option 1 was out, and option 2 would have to be a last resort. So I plumped for option 3.

I’ve had allergy testing done before, when I was young, and the process hasn’t altered a whole lot in the intervening years. You roll up your sleeves and put your forearms on the table, palms up. Then the nurse slaps a length of sticky-tape onto each forearm, running from the inside of your wrist up to the inside of your elbow. Along each side of the tape run a series of numbers: 1–10 up one side and 11–20 down the other.

This numbered tape lets the nurse drip 40 different allergens (in solution) on to your arms and keep track of what went where, in case anything reacts. She also applies two controls: water and histamine. Water shouldn't do anything, histamine should swell up into an little itchy lump (and it does).

When she’s finished with her pipette, she takes a little scalpel blade and pricks your skin where the solutions sit (a different blade for each solution to avoid contamination). This lets the allergens into your blood stream and emphasises any allergic reaction.

Then, once you’ve been dripped on and stabbed, you get sent away to read your book for ten minutes while your body fights dust mites, grass pollen, cocoa, wheat, tomatoes, and so on.

I wasn’t entirely sure which I wanted: a positive or a negative reaction. A negative one would mean I’d exhausted another possible solution to my problem — not good. A positive reaction would have downsides as well. If it turned out I was allergic to, say, wheat, then that might mean we’d cracked what’s secretly causing these ulcers — but who wants to be allergic to wheat? Your meals would be pretty dull if you were allergic to tomatoes, peppers, spice, chocolate, fizzy drinks, citrus, vinegar and wheat. What would that leave me to survive on? Plant roots and dried lentil husks. Hardly fun.

In the end I just sat there and read my book and tried to ignore the mass of imaginary itches that had sprung up all over my body.

As it turns out, I don’t have any food allergies, not even to the things that clearly give me ulcers. Apparently I might have food intolerances but that’s all, and since you don’t die of food intolerance (unlike food allergies which can be fatal) the doctor wasn’t interested in going any further. Don’t eat those foods that give you ulcers, sir, was his advice. Really? What a novel idea, Doctor. I see seven years of medical training have turned you in to an observational and analytical savant. Thank you.

So, that’s that — option 3 out the window.


Well, it’s been nice talking to you, but I really must get to bed — yes I know it’s early, but I have twelve hours of sleep to squeeze in before my morning aerobics and vegetable eating session. Time for last resorts…

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Comments (9)

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  1. Matt:

    Did they really say that more sleep and aerobics would help?

    Posted 9 hours, 34 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  2. Dunstan:

    No, they didn't say that, but I guess it would make sense. If you don't get lots of sleep then your body runs down, and as I don't get much sleep, a bit more would probably help out.

    And as for aerobics, well, I was being a bit facetious there as well. Exercise is meant to help improve your general well being, so I guess that'd help a bit.

    Certainly when I'm doing sport I don't feel the ulcers so much.

    But generally, I was joking about the twelve hours and the aerobics :o)

    Posted 10 hours, 14 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Matt
  3. Cam:

    I'm sure you know this, but I've been told that strees is a big cause of mouth ulcers. Maybe a spell in the city to calm your nerves?

    Seriously though - I truely hope you find a cure - that has to be an atrotious thing to be afflicted with ...

    Posted 1 day, 8 hours after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  4. Dunstan:

    I don't think many people lead a more stress-free life than me — I'm very lucky and have it pretty easy down here :o)

    But you're right, stress doesn't help at all. The only two times I've been really stressed, they came out en masse and I couldn't speak for a couple of days.

    Luckily that doesn't happen very often :op

    Posted 1 day, 9 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Cam
  5. Jakee:

    Huah. I was having the same problem recently and I tried absolutely everything to get them outta my mouth. (including plain vodka to cleanse them, salting them and other very sensitive ways my friends gave me :).

    I ran through those allergy tests too - and surprisingly - they were negative.

    Well, then I tried "time heals" method and after having them for three more weeks I lost my patience.

    The diagnosis finally came from the mouth hygienists' clinic and it was fairly simple. I was lacking vitamins very much so the natural defenses were too low and poorly cleansed toothbrush had done the final cut.

    Well, after drinking citron juice (100% squished from the fruit) couple of days and buying a new toothbrush I got rid of them.

    I highly recommend following those steps to anyone having the same problem.

    + I also heard pineapple allergy causing ulcers.
    + For first aid - salting really helps for getting rid of the soreness and lasts a day until it starts hurting again.

    Posted 1 year after the fact
  6. Steve:

    My advice would be to 'try' to avoid anything that can puncture or damage the lining of your mouth.

    Personal experience tells me that biting the inside of my cheek or burning my tongue on a cup of tea inevitably leads to an ulcer or two. So logically, I imagine even something as innocuous as the skin of a crunchy apple, a packet of crisps, or brushing my teeth with too much gusto could be enough to cause multiple small punctures.

    Apparently, Bacteria can then enter through the break in the skin, which heals over and cocoons the bacteria inside. The bacteria, out of sheer boredom, have no option but to eat and multiply. And that's when you start to see those pussy white spots in you mouth, that burst open and cause all that pain.

    Posted 1 year, 5 months after the fact
  7. Stephanie:

    Where intolerances are concerned, Doctors are useless. After over 4 years of suffering and them not helping, I went private, found out I was intolerant to a whole host of things, and now I am on the road to recovery! Maybe try if you need any ideas :) (sorry it's about 2 years late!) Steph

    Posted 1 year, 8 months after the fact
  8. Hox:

    I know this post is ages old and the site isn't maintained anymore, but this reminded me of a story.

    My boss's girlfriend had hives all over her hands. She went to one doctor after another and none of them were able to help her.

    Then one day she's at the vet to see about her cat. The vet says, "I don't mean to intrude, but have you been milking cows?" to which she replies "yes". The vet gave her an ointment which cleared it right up.

    I have no idea why she was milking cows. She's a botanist.


    Posted 2 years, 6 months after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  9. Dunstan:

    "I have no idea why she was milking cows. She's a botanist."

    For some reason I am a big fan of this sentence :o)

    Posted 2 years, 6 months after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Hox

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