OTHER FORMS OF FOOD ALLERGY: A ROLE FOR FOOD?

There are various causes for vasculitis and purpura. Infections can precipitate an attack, as can certain drugs. A shortage of platelets, the tiny particles in the blood that promote clotting, can also lead to purpura – such a shortage occurs in some autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks its own tissues. If all these possibilities have been eliminated, then it is worth considering allergy as a potential cause. In rare cases, food allergens circulating in the blood can be responsible – these can be identified by an elimination diet of the kind described in Chapter Fourteen. There may also be instances of IgE-mediated allergy producing vasculitis. An acute attack of vasculitis and purpura can accompany the sudden collapse (anaphylactic shock) that sometimes occurs on eating a food allergen.

Many of those suffering from allergic vasculitis show sensitivity to various chemicals, so it is important to eradicate these from the immediate environment before trying an elimination diet. This may be sufficient to clear the symptoms or at least reduce their severity. Even if it has no apparent effect, avoidance of chemicals should continue during the elimination diet, as there may be dual sensitivity – complete recover)’ will only occur if both food and chemical factors are eliminated simultaneously.

It has been suggested that immune complexes can cause inflammation in much larger veins and arteries, and even in the heart itself, thus provoking a far greater range of symptoms. These include muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, severe pain in the legs, loss of circulation to the fingers and toes (or in extreme cases to the whole limb with consequent gangrene), loss of vision, seizures and paralysis on one side of the body. It should be emphasized that food-allergic patients with symptoms such as these are probably extremely rare, and some doctors would dispute their existence altogether. Most of the reported cases appear to be sensitive to a very large range of foods and chemicals, and they have suffered serious ill-health for many years.

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