Nothing Is Allowed: How I Live With A Drug Allergy

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Nothing Is Allowed: How I Live With A Drug Allergy
Nothing Is Allowed: How I Live With A Drug Allergy

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MY FEATURE IS NOT CRITICAL, does not lead to disability, but it undoubtedly affects the quality of life. I was prompted to write about this by the lack of information and a long search for a doctor: seven years passed since the onset of the disease before I could find a specialist who could explain to me the mechanisms of the body's failure and prescribe treatment. Allergies are still poorly understood. It is not clear why the so-called mast (immune) cells suddenly begin to riot in a healthy person. It has already been proven that this is influenced by heredity and lifestyle, but, as in other cases, other things being equal, someone eventually gets sick, and someone does not.

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My first allergy symptoms began to appear when I was 22 years old. Before finding out my diagnosis - "allergy to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)" - like many allergy sufferers, I had to endure many exacerbations, begin to suspect everything in the world, on this basis, throw out half of the cosmetics, go on a diet, do a general cleaning (because of her, the boyfriend's library with dusty Soviet books was damaged, which was transported to the dacha).

Finding and eliminating the allergen is actually half the treatment. But not everything is so simple: despite the fact that all large cities already have laboratories where they can do a complex blood test, the most common way to determine an allergen is empirical. In fact, this is a brute force method: ate strawberries - if there is no reaction, then good, we exclude it from the list; then you taste plums, then bananas and so on. Once the approximate range of substances causing the reaction has been identified, a refinement analysis can be made. It is simply impossible to donate blood for all allergens: there are hundreds of them, and testing for each is quite expensive.

There are free skin allergy tests: they allow you to determine the reaction to the most common groups of allergens. Micro-incisions are made on the hand, a special concentrate is injected into each, the reaction is monitored by redness. But this analysis played a cruel joke on me: I had a reaction to dust. The stern question of the doctor "Is your apartment well-equipped?" inspired me to organize a hypoallergenic life with manic waving with a rag and the search for miracle cleaning products (result: there is no such tool). The mistake was this: it is important not only to determine the very fact of the presence of an allergy, but also the degree of the body's reaction. In my case, dust plays almost no role, and the greatest response is caused by drugs, which was eventually determined empirically after several exacerbations, followed by a “miracle of insight”.

To put it very simply, NSAIDs are all pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs; they are joined by aspirin-based coughs. Allergy to drugs means the inability for any disease to be treated according to the standard regimens that work for most people. When it comes to minor ailments like headaches after a working day at the computer or due to periods, this is one thing. More serious diseases are another matter: here it becomes completely sad.

It is impossible to donate blood for all allergens: there are hundreds of them, and testing for each is quite expensive

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The main symptom of my allergy is Quincke's edema, allergic edema of the face, accompanied by spots - cramps. This is a fast-growing and very dangerous reaction. The face swells up in a matter of minutes, begins to ache. The most dangerous thing in this case is respiratory failure, if the edema begins to spread to the respiratory tract. Therefore, any such situation is a reason to immediately call an ambulance. The treatment is rather clumsy: hormonal and antihistamines, but this is work with the consequences, not with the cause of the disease.

It's a shame that the reaction can be persistent and last for several days.Previously, in order to come to work in a more or less decent form, you had to get up early in the morning and give an injection so that by the beginning of the day the swelling would have subsided a little. After that, dense tonal means were used to mask spots. It is very funny to see a different face every morning: one day you have big ears, the other day you have swollen eyes, the third day you have big lips (profit!). Acquaintances mostly treat my allergies normally (I even allow to make fun of myself), but outsiders sometimes throw sympathetic glances.

But okay, external manifestations - much more serious is that I cannot get traditional treatment. Almost any doctor makes a helpless gesture: "You can't do anything." That leaves homeopathy, breathing exercises, or very strong medicines. For example, for the treatment of back pain, they selected a remedy for epilepsy for me, all colds are treated with antibiotics from the first day, and antiallergic immunity, on the advice of my immunologist, supports the remedy for asthma.

A big problem is pain relief for serious ailments or medical intervention. It's impossible to get used to the pain. In acute cases, it is almost impossible to endure, it can reach a painful shock with loss of consciousness. Unfortunately, I had such situations. The only way out is opiates, narcotic drugs. But everything is not easy here: one night they brought me to the hospital in an ambulance with acute abdominal pain, they sent me to the ward, but after medical manipulations the pain did not go away. Crawling on the bed, almost howling, I called the nurse several times; she came, swore that I was interfering with her sleep, put the antispasmodic allowed for me, but in this case already useless it is necessary to "portray" the treatment in order to calm me down). After I suffered for half the night and explained to the doctor that I had no drug addiction and I really couldn't stand it, they finally called me another nurse with a special suitcase: “Well, we didn't know that you were like that, with a specialty.”

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Another time I managed to get sick on vacation in Turkey. Through an interpreter, I told the doctor several times about the allergy. As a result, on the second day of treatment, there was confusion, and I was still injected with a prohibited drug by mistake. It was the day of departure. Already on the way to the airport, I began to realize that something was wrong. The face was swollen at a breakneck speed, it became difficult to breathe. I was taken off the flight and put in a small emergency room right at the airport. There I was under an IV drip, while my insurance company said that it would not deal with me much - at most, I could be accommodated in a hotel and sent on the next flight, which may be in a week. As a result, I managed to persuade the commander of the Russian crew to take me on board - I had to sign a paper that the company was not responsible in case of my health problems during the flight.

Despite all these stories, I try to come to terms with my peculiarity: I follow a diet, I take medications, I monitor my health and try to keep abreast of new information. Diet for allergies is tough, but necessary, even if your allergy is not food. Why? The weakened body begins to react very sharply to allergenic foods. As a result, symptoms may worsen and treatment may be delayed. Prohibited coffee, alcohol, sweet, salty, spicy, red and yellow foods, some types of proteins. When they gave me recommendations for the first time - a sheet of paper divided into two parts: no (a lot of text), you can (a small list of absolutely tasteless, in my opinion, things) - it seemed that I would have to chew cabbage leaves and cereals until the end of my days. Fortunately, for now, it is enough for me to stick to a diet only during exacerbations.

I have to carefully choose my cosmetics: my allergy is cross (the reaction occurs to "related" allergens), spreads to salicylates, which are in many products, from creams to washing powder. The consultants in the stores react very funny to the girl who reads all the small inscriptions on the jars for an hour, and sometimes even volunteers to help. Now I understand why the instructions for cosmetic preparations contain a clause that it is better to check them for allergies. Any remedy, even if your allergen is not indicated in the composition, can provoke an immune response by the same cross mechanism. If a person has an increased allergic background, substances that have not previously caused a reaction can become provocateurs over time. It is much better, just in case, to apply a new remedy to the bend of the elbow (not forgetting that the body's response time can range from several minutes to 48 hours) than to treat the consequences of incompatibility later. For the same reason, you should never hesitate to ask a beautician or hairdresser to show the jars that are used during the procedures and remind you of your allergies at each visit. The specialists I turn to have long been accustomed to constant questioning.

I tried many ineffective techniques, in case of any ailment I lay in a layer, with tears I endured pain, which I tolerate very badly

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Despite my not always successful experience of going to doctors and several cases of misunderstanding, I have a clear statement: self-medication for any illness, and especially for people with drug intolerance, is the last thing. Any medicine must be selected by a doctor. Ideally, you should be under the supervision of a specialist for some time, so that in case of a negative reaction of the body, you can be provided with the necessary assistance in a timely manner. You should always be ready to explain which remedies are contraindicated for you, how you understood this, how quickly and intensely the body reacts. A compromise solution, as a rule, is still found. This could be a different treatment protocol or the use of alternative drugs. Unfortunately, before I seriously take up my health and start looking for information and doctors, I tried many ineffective methods (from homeopathy and breathing of yogis to completely original methods like lighting scented candles and listening to special anesthetic chants), in case of any ailment I lay in a layer, with tears I endured pain, which I, in principle, endure very badly.

You cannot cure an allergy, but you can partially overcome it, reduce the number and intensity of episodes. First of all, you need a consultation with an allergist-immunologist. Sometimes I read on the forums that people cannot find a good specialist, travel far, no time, no money. One doctor comically told me about free medicine: "To understand what's wrong with you and to prescribe treatment, you need to complete a quest …" Unfortunately, this is so. This does not mean that nothing needs to be done. Only a doctor has the necessary knowledge to help you, and he will definitely be found, even if not right away. We must show perseverance and patience, do not stop searching.

My experience of the disease is less than ten years, but during this time, new approaches to the treatment of allergies, and new drugs have already appeared. There is no longer a need for heavy hormonal therapy to relieve symptoms in certain cases, drugs with prolonged action have appeared, and diagnostics have improved. Not so long ago, several pain relievers without an NSAID component have entered the market. They have their own characteristics, they act somewhat worse than standard analgesics, but this can also be a solution. There are regional programs for people with severe allergies that cannot be cured by conventional methods - expensive drugs are provided free of charge. You can learn, again, about these opportunities and use them only by visiting a doctor.

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A separate item is treatment at the dentist. Fortunately, I have not yet had a response to local anesthesia, but I know there is such a problem. The strategy is the same - be sure to inform the doctor and remember that the doctor can use a variety of drugs, including NSAIDs. Dental prosthetics can also cause a reaction of the body to a foreign body, therefore, allergy sufferers are advised to take in advance, or at least have their own drug, just in case, before serious interventions.

I spent a lot of time searching the Internet for information about my illness. Unfortunately, there were very few finds - a dry scientific article and superficial mentions. Yet my allergic reaction is not very common - it occurs in one person in several thousand. I tried to communicate on the forums, but the response was small. But there were many offers to buy miracle remedies - all sorts of infusions and irradiators. They advised to be treated with activated charcoal. I smile: true, but this is only a small part of the diagram. I think that people who have a basic understanding of the structure of the body will be able to imagine what would happen if they overdo it using this method.

I would like to find people like me to exchange information. Of course, we are not talking about the selection of treatment methods - this is a doctor's appointment. But sometimes you want to get support, share your experience of interacting with the medical system and contacts of specialists. If you suddenly see a character on the network with the nickname "Pig Edema" - I'm ready to talk to you.

Photos: atoss - stock.adobe.com, Stieber - stock.adobe.com, Prazis - stock.adobe.com, pixelrobot - stock.adobe.com

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