The Maybe-Probably Link Between Allergies, Asthma, + Eczema

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Jack and I didn’t have any food allergies growing up, so I just assumed that one day I’d be sitting next to my kids, eating peanut butter out of a jar.  Not only is peanut butter off the table (quite literally), but there is an overwhelming list of allergies stuck to my refrigerator.  I felt enormous guilt for their food allergies (was it because I drank milk when I was pregnant? ate peanut butter? wolfed down chili dogs? The answer is no, by the way), but their allergist told me that when two people have childhood asthma and childhood eczema, it is very likely that their kids can develop allergies.

Say what now?  No one told us that in premarital counseling…  Jack had terrible childhood asthma and I had terrible childhood eczema.

is-there-a-link-between-allergies-asthma-and-eczemaI really believe that asthma, eczema, and allergies are all intertwined.  If I was a betting girl, I’d say that had our parents been advised to change our diets when we were children, our asthma and eczema would have significantly improved.

A quick rundown: Remmy (my five year old) + Sophie (my three and a half year old) have a long list of food allergies. Minnie is allergic to nothing.  Nothiiiing!  Sophie has asthma, Remmy + Sophie deal with eczema, and both girls are allergic to dogs and cats. Remmy needs to get further testing from other environmental allergies, but she and Sophie are allergic to pollen and Sophie is very allergic to dust mites.

Sheesh.

As far as food allergies go, I wrote about that here.

Before Sophie was two, Jack and I would be on edge any time she had a cold. It seemed like the cold would always trigger an asthmatic episode, and nebulizer treatments weren’t enough. It would be 1am, the wheezing would be awful, and the neb treatments weren’t enough. We’d call our pediatrician, and he’d immediately instruct us to call 911. Boom. Two day stay in the hospital. It was awful for us; totally worse for a toddler who wanted to be at home in her own crib.

We took her back to her allergist for more testing (she had already been diagnosed as being allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame). The results came back – Sophie is also allergic to wheat, soy, and eggs. We immediately removed those from her diet, and within a couple of weeks we noticed that 1) her asthma improved dramatically, 2) her eczema improved, and 3) she was *finally* sleeping through the night. Big, big life changers for us (and all of the sleep-deprived parents said amen).

The takeaway: If your child suffers from asthma or eczema, get him/her tested for allergies.  Is there a link? Maybe. Probably. I mean, YES, TOTALLY (in my mind), but I’m not a doctor or a scientist, so all I have to offer you is anecdotal evidence. There are no adverse reactions to getting tested, so try it is my best advice here. :) It was not fun overhauling our diets yet again (Remmy tested positive for wheat and soy allergies that same day), but there’s simply no comparing a pricey Whole Foods trip to a pricey hospital trip.

How about you? Have you had your kids tested for allergies?

Roo Ciambriello

If Scratch or Sniff founder/editor Roo Ciambriello could list all of her favorite things, they'd include her sweet little family, food trucks, and every AMA Snoop Dogg has done on Reddit. Roo is a copywriter out of New Haven, Connecticut, and loves writing fun stories on the backs of potato chip bags and cereal boxes in Whole Foods, Target, Nordstrom, Kroger, y mucho mas. Roo creates voices for brands, ghostwrites for celebrities, writes a personal website, and is (much to the chagrin of those around her) pretty active on Twitter. You can also find her providing commentary on advertising/branding at Adweek and eating fajitas on deadline days.

11 Comments to The Maybe-Probably Link Between Allergies, Asthma, + Eczema

  1. yay new blog!!!

    my 5 year old has asthma. and like you, no one (ahem, mr. hubby) mentioned that he had really bad asthma growing up..had i only known..) We are in year 3 of dealing with it and now know when its time to break out the neb and start his control medicine. He’s had the blood test so we only know it’s dogs/cats/maple. I’m actually thinking about trying out a “real food” way of eating to see if that makes any difference in his asthma too. I’ve heard it can. Too bad chicken nuggets and fries aren’t considered real food. looking forward to some recipes up in here!

  2. Laura Broder

    Guh, thanks for the downer, Roo. My husband still has asthma, and I have eczema and a shit ton of contact dermatitis allergies. We haven’t procreated yet….maybe we should adopt? lol

    Congrats on the soft-launch of the site.

    • K

      This was my first thought, too! Haha. BF had eczema, I have asthma. No plans for procreation anytime soon, though. We both have gluten sensitivities (celiac is in his family, but he hasn’t bothered to stay on a gluten-filled diet long enough to take the blood test), so I suppose it is a plus to know that we are already more aware of allergies than some of the general populace.

      Came over from Neon Fresh, love to hear more about the allergen-free lifestyle! :)

  3. Britiney

    Love the new blog, Roo!! Can’t wait to see what you have to share here. One question I have about allergies is about the testing process and how it works. We’ve done scratch testing and blood tests on our kids. The last blood test included an over-the-top positive (6+ & over 100 histamines) for something my son has been eating and has eaten since! So that makes me doubt the process. I’d like more info on how it works and what the value is in the testing but don’t know where to start. Thanks for sharing here! We can all encourage each other!!!

    • I’m with you. My son is allergic to dogs and cats according to the blood test, but my mother in law has watched him daily since he was about 4 months old and she has a dog. he’s never had any sort of reaction. the only time his asthma kicks up is seasonally.

  4. Kristin B.

    Hello ROO!
    Great post! I just had a few little tid bits I thought I would pass along to you in case they have not been already offered by your physician. Get a script for liquid epinephrine and 10cc normal saline bullets. You can use them to help with the wheezing and maybe stave off a ER visit. :) Also do you girls get all the “normal” immunizations? If so or if you are on a staggered schedule please read (and you probably already know this) about the ingredients of each immunization. Unfortunately there are a lot of allergist who are not aware, as are a lot of other physicians, of the ingredients in immunizations. I just had a friend who is allergic to trees, specifically alder and birch, have a vaccine that her allergist urged her to get and she had an prophylactic response and an visit to the ER in an ambulance. :)

  5. Mina

    I’m so glad you have started this blog. My daughter hasn’t been tested for allergies but we’ve been visiting the dermatologist since she was about 3, she’s 10 now. At first she was dx with eczema but I don’t think that’s what she really has. She scratches the shit out of the face – to the point of bleeding, and now her arms too. It breaks my heart. Anytime I’ve mentioned allergies to the dermatologist, he brushes it off. The only thing that has prevented me from getting her tested is that it kind of comes in waves, so probably not allergies, right? At first thought it might be stress related, but now I feel helpless.

  6. Liz

    So my son only has one food allergy (FPIES is the technical term, I suppose) to sweet potatoes. Although I haven’t found much to validate this opinion, I think that because we fed him so many sweet potatoes starting around 4-5 months (it was his first food), eventually led to this allergy around 7 months of age. I’m curious to hear your thoughts/advice on when to start feeding solids to a baby and what foods to start with (maybe what you did with Minnie)?

  7. Channa

    I had both my boys tested. My 2 year old had eczema on his face, and after he had a little peanut butter one day his face broke out in an immediate rash. As a baby, he would get diarrhea when I fed him green beans. He’s allergic to peanuts (epi pen!), tomatoes (pizza & spaghetti = eczema & diaper rash), string beans, eggs, and mustard (???).

    My 3 year old had chronic ear infections, behavior issues, and asthma before we got him tested and realized it was all caused by food & seasonal allergies. We decided to get him tested after a stay in the hospital with pneumonia. We started noticing a connection between dairy and his asthma. He now drinks coconut milk and eats coconut yogurt. He’s allergic to milk, dairy, eggs, peanuts, and mustard. His behavior has improved a lot since knocking out dairy! His asthma still flares with illness and dust mites and pollen and mold…. But it’s not nearly as bad as it was with milk.

    My husband barely has any allergies, only a few seasonal ones. However, I’m allergic to pretty much everything and had eczema as a baby and some asthma as I grew into adulthood. Ive had a case of hand eczema for 3 years now and they still dont know whats causing it. Seasonal/inhalant allergies include everything! seriously, Im allergic to the world… especially cats! Food wise, I grew out of my milk allergy and grew in to a bad (epi pen!) fish allergy. I’m allergic to fish (not shellfish), eggs, tomatoes, barley, rice, and oats. Those last 3 mainly cause GI issues. I have allergic reactions to beer, wine, and whiskey as well. SIGH.

  8. Ingrid

    I am so excited about this new blog because we are entering the world of allergy testing and eliminating foods from Jamie’s diet to see if it helps his skin issues and possibly his focus at school. Did anyone ever hear about a link between attention issues and and wheat/gluten?

  9. Anyone try the GAPS diet? I think allergies can be caused from leaky gut…but don’t quote me on that. GAPS can reverse autism and heal leaky gut, which can cause poor nutrition absorption, lack of focus and brain development (one result is delayed speech), and the list goes on…

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