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Ask Dr. Gott 11/03

Allergies a life-threatening matter

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DEAR DR. GOTT: I'm writing about the lady that has had to go to the emergency room with swelling of the tongue and throat. A friend of mine was eating caramel popcorn with almonds. His tongue and throat swelled, 911 was called, and the emergency room doctor was able to save his life. The doctor told him that he'd had an allergic reaction but didn't know to what. Not connecting the incident to the popcorn/almond treat, he ate it again about a week later. This time he went into anaphylactic shock, and they were not able to save his life. Almonds were one of his favorite foods. He had eaten them all his life, and this was a sudden allergic reaction to them.
    Allergic reactions are extremely serious and should be addressed immediately. This lady should ask her doctor, right now, for an EpiPen and keep Benadryl, 50 milligrams, with her at all times. (She should ask her pharmacist for the generic. It no longer requires a prescription and is inexpensive.) This should be done now, then have the testing done. She could die before all the test results are in, as my friend did. This could save her life. I've had allergic reactions so violent that I had to open the Benadryl capsule and put the powder directly on my tongue. This gets the medication into my system immediately and has saved my life before the EMTs could get here.
    She should also keep a food diary of everything she eats and drinks, including any medication she is taking, until she figures this out. This way she will be able to pinpoint the cause of her reaction. Over time, our bodies can develop allergies to medication, food and/or spices that we have been able to eat all our lives. Don't think that just because you have always been able to eat something before that a reaction now is not valid. I've had allergies all my life, and, as I get older, I'm adding to the list continually. It could also be a combination of foods and/or spices that don't normally bother her by themselves.
    I hope you print this. A lot of people read your column, and I'm one of the faithful. You do a great service providing information to your readers. This information could very well save some lives. It is very terrible and frightening when your throat closes and you cannot breath.
    DEAR READER: You have performed a significant public service by sharing your experiences and therapeutic recommendations. You are right on target. Thank you for writing.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Allergies." Other readers who would like a copy should send a long, self-addressed, stamped envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.

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