Monday, October 10, 2011

Allergies and Eczema

During Bella's 18-month wellness check-up, I brought up a few incidents of hives that Bella had experienced recently. We're fairly certain that Bella may be allergic to tomatoes because she has broken out in hives three times within the last month after eating tomatoes. Each time we've given her Benadryl and the hives cleared up within a few hours. Obviously we learned that Bella cannot have tomatoes so we've eliminated tomatoes for now. 

Based on our family history of allergies (nasal allergies and food allergies), the pediatrician referred us to an allergist. Both Ian and I saw allergists as children and received allergy shots for several years. Ian had various allergies, but is only allergic to cats at this point in time. I also had various allergies but the only allergies that still plague me are bee stings and sulfa. I am supposed to carry an Epi-Pen for the bee stings, due to anaphylaxis, but I'm not the best at always remembering to do so. Ian's family has a history of shellfish allergies, too. Bella was bound to have allergies, I just didn't think we'd be dealing with it so soon.

Today, Bella and I met with the allergist for an initial consultation. Our pediatrician referred to Dr. Kalik at Partners in Allergy and Asthma and once again, her referral was greatly appreciated. Dr. Kalik was personable, warm and very gentle with Bella. He took his time developing a rapport with Bella and eventually earned her attention and then her trust. He spoke with me at great length about our family medical history and our present concerns. Based on what I told him, he said he was 99% sure Bella was allergic to tomatoes but wanted to test to confirm his assumption. He also suggested that we test for the 5 most common food allergies (milk, soy, wheat, eggs and tree nuts). I was relieved to learn that Bella would have blood drawn and would not have skin testing done. He even prescribed a numbing cream so that Bella wouldn't have to suffer the pain of having blood drawn... how awesome is that?!? An Epi-Pen may be prescribed for Bella if her allergy is severe enough, but we will cross that bridge once we have the results back.

And FINALLY someone addressed her eczema as an auto-immune disorder! He said that Bella's eczema was mild compared to some cases, but I also explained that we just finished battling a bout of eczema and her skin was finally clearing up. He prescribed a topical steroid and a lotion. The topical steroid is made especially for babies and toddlers and is a very mild steroid, so that eases my fears of the side effects of prolonged steroid use. He seemed to think that Bella would respond well to the prescriptions. Winter (and cooler, less humid weather) is approaching so he wanted to get a jump start on prime eczema weather. Due to eczema being an auto-immune disorder, just like allergies, she may test positive for things she is not truly allergic to. If she does, we will undergo an elimination diet for a month to see if she is in fact allergic.

There could be much worse things we would have to face with Bella's health. This is a minor bump in the road and we are definitely equipped (thanks, Ursula) to deal with allergies. If we have to avoid tomatoes and carry an Epi-Pen, then so be it. It's just a bit sad that the poor little girl may not be able to enjoy pizza, spaghetti and other yummy foods containing tomatoes. 

We'll go for testing next week and should get the results back within two weeks. I hope it's just an allergy to tomatoes and we won't have to avoid any other foods. I also hope that her eczema begins to improve with the use of the new medications. Fingers crossed!

But if you're looking for a good allergist (pediatric or otherwise), I highly recommend Dr. Craig Kalik at Partners in Allergy and Asthma. I should also give a "shout out" to our pediatrician, Dr. Gabrielle Hosemann at Pediatric Health Care Alliance. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella and Baby #2

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