My Path to Becoming a Patient Advocate
When asked, I gladly accepted the opportunity to become a patient leader advocate for Allergies.net. I have written clinical articles for various Health Union communities since 2020. I also have allergies. I know firsthand how helpful information and support can be for people with chronic illnesses.
Learning about allergies upon diagnosis
My knowledge of allergies was quite limited when I received a diagnosis of food allergies as an adult in 2008. I knew people could be allergic to certain medicines. And I had heard of people having anaphylactic reactions to fish and nuts. But I had never connected symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, and pain with allergies.
I was already dealing with an autoimmune disease when I found out I also had food allergies. To this day, I do not know which evolved first or whether one led to the other. But I believe links exist between the two.
I have learned a lot from reading about allergies and autoimmune diseases. Research into these complex illnesses continues to bring about new insights. I look forward to seeing the results of a 2021 study that looked at the prospect of allergies setting in motion certain autoimmune diseases.1
Importance of allergy testing
Testing for allergies played a key role in my diagnosis and creating a treatment plan. A doctor who assessed me suggested I undergo an extensive test for food allergies. I agreed.
My test results revealed a lot. As a writer who is eager to learn, I welcomed the formal report that came with the test. The report showed which foods I was allergic and sensitive to and to what degree.
Making major lifestyle changes
I did not know all the changes that would follow that food allergy test. Before then, I thought I could not do much about how I felt—but having the data enabled me to take action to improve my health and quality of life.
Food allergies and elimination diets
The doctor explained the difference between food allergies and sensitivities. She said the allergies would likely persist, but I could become less sensitive to some foods. She suggested an elimination and rotation diet to help me reach this goal.
I was willing to try something new that might bring relief, so I agreed to the special diet. At first, the changes were hard to make, but I accepted them over time. My way of eating has never been the same since.
How I live with allergies
Over time, I have faced both new challenges with allergies as well as blessings. While I am less sensitive to some of those initial foods, I developed other allergies, sensitivities, and symptoms. I have had to tweak my "diet" and way of life more times than I can count—but I am healthier.
Today, I live the best I can with allergies. Several things help me. Among them are learning about this chronic illness and accessing the resources and support at hand.
Ask questions to our community
I know other people live with allergies too. Many who know I have allergies have asked me questions. Because of my experience, I now have compassion and firsthand knowledge to offer them. I would love to hear from you too. Feel free to ask questions and share your thoughts in the comments.
Have you ever had to change holiday plans due to you or your loved ones allergies?