I recently interviewed my allergist in Pasadena, California. He allowed me to post the interview, and I wanted to share it with all of you:
The middle of October is a time for pumpkin carving, pie baking, and the unfortunate beginning of allergy and cold season. Not only do I have food allergies, but I also have seasonal allergies. That makes this a time where I want to hide from the world and/or cover my head with a paper bag when I go outside. A few weeks ago I ate something that my body was not happy with, and not only did I get my usual symptoms of an allergic reaction (stomach ache, pain, etc.) but my nose and sinuses were on fire. I did some research to see if the two (my food allergy and sinus flare-up) were related, and a lot of articles stated that they might be. However, I wanted a professional opinion, so I scheduled an interview with Dr. John H. Smith, Jr. of Pasadena, CA.
He originally grew up in Illinois and attended The University of Pennsylvania for Medical School. After Med School, he moved out to California for his residency and thought he was going to go into Family Practice, but he says at that time he was, in his words “tired of telling people to lose weight and such…”
So instead of family practice, Dr. Smith did his residency in Internal Medicine. He got a job and one day met a group of doctors who seemed really happy and joyful, and he really wanted to know what kind of medicine they practiced. Dr. Smith found out that they were allergists, and from then on he realized that allergies and immunology were the fields he wanted to practice.
Dr. Smith told me about different allergy treatments. He says that for environmental allergies there are shots, but unfortunately there are not shots for food allergies. The best treatment is to avoid them. Most often, allergies are hereditary, and an allergist’s job is to “identify the allergens, then turn them off.”
He also told me that the human body has changed throughout the past 100,000 years. Our bodies now have a wholly different immune system that reacts to different infections. With food allergies, people have to have a higher awareness of the food that they are eating. There are now schools that are completely “peanut and nut” free because of the prevalence of students with peanut and tree-nut allergies. I looked up schools that are free of peanuts, and was surprised that there are even some that are near me. People are becoming aware of the severity of food allergies and helping others to become aware too.
If you think you or someone you know might have allergies, the best way to find out is to get tested by an allergist. There are great doctors across the country who are willing to help you figure out if you have a food allergy, or ANY allergy for that matter. Dr. Smith Jr. in Pasadena, CA is one that I would recommend…but of course, I am a little biased.
If you think you have an allergy or know someone who might, please call a local allergist and get tested. Not only can this lead to a good diagnosis, but your allergist can help guide you through an elimination diet as you narrow down what food allergies you might have. Be aware that cutting something out of your diet that your body needs can be harmful–so, please know your body and know what it needs.