Miscellaneous Allergies And Nervous Disorders – BY THIS TIME, it must be clear that practically every organ or tissue of the human body can become hypersensitive and be the site of an allergic reaction.
Most of us have come to know the common allergies, such as bronchial asthma, hay fever, perennial allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, most forms of contact dermatitis, urticaria, angioedema and digestive disturbances. It is not so well known that allergy can cause certain nervous disorders, including Ménière’s disease, convulsions, pain, bleeding and colicky spasms of the kidneys, bladder and urinary tract; bleeding into the skin and mucous membranes called purpura; severe menstrual cramps and discharge; some forms of joint disease and arthritis and certain conditions of the mouth, throat, eyes and ears. Physical allergy to heat, cold and light are also included. Allergy can be strongly suspected in these conditions, when thorough examinations have revealed no other cause and when the patient has demonstrated allergy either present or past. A strong family history of allergy is highly significant in making a diagnosis of allergy.
Nervous allergy has, in recent years, received considerable attention. Although no set personality pattern has been found to exist in the allergic person, there are some strong suggestions that they are frequently hyperirritable. The electroencephalogram has, in some instances, shown alterations in children, especially those with behavior problems.
Epilepsy has been regarded as an allergic disease by some allergists, and a small percentage is due to allergy. Foods appear to be the most likely cause, although all factors must be considered and the evaluation must be most thorough. Multiple sclerosis has recently been studied along allergic lines. The allergen causing the condition may be within the body. It has been difficult to prove at the present time, but, again, if suspected, the most painstaking studies of all medical factors should be done before an allergic survey is undertaken.
Uterus, kidney and bladder allergy is not a rarity. Colic from kidney spasms, frequency of urination with bleeding, dysmenorrhea and uterine cramps have occurred from inhaling pollens or the ingestion of foods. Injections of various allergens have produced symptoms by causing irritation and bleeding of the mucous membrane and colic from the muscle spasms of the uterus or bladder. The swelling and irritation in these organs and tissues resembles many other conditions affecting the genitourinary system.
Purpura has been seen frequently from hypersensitivity to foods, drugs or inhaled allergens. This bleeding into the skin may be accompanied by gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea and, often, arthritis. This condition is known as Henock’s or Schönlein’s-Henock’s syndrome. It must again be called to the attention of the reader that only if sufficient evidence is present to suspect allergy should such studies and management be carried out. Thorough medical studies should precede the allergic survey and management. However, the sufferer should not permit negative medical findings to cause him to despair.
The allergic joint is not infrequently observed. It is known as intermittent hydrarthrosis, and is often seen after a person, allergic to horse serum, has been given tetanus antitoxin. The joint will become painful and swollen, and fluid will accumulate in the joint space. Specific food allergy may also cause this condition. A complete cure may be accomplished by complete avoidance of the offending foods.
Rheumatoid arthritis has been suspected as being an allergy to bacteria, especially the streptococcus. It has also been interesting to note that many patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an allergic history. The allergic phase of the problem must be carefully and thoroughly investigated in these individuals.
Allergies of the mouth, throat and ears can be due to drugs, foods, contact from dentures and orthodontia devices. Other conditions that may cause soreness of the mouth and throat must be eliminated, such as infection in the mouth and teeth, which may also be a source of the sensitivity. General physical disease must be considered in such cases. Canker sores and herpes due to foods, spices and drugs are quite common. The allergy must be discovered if a “cure” is to be obtained. Vomiting is usually a manifestation of many gastrointestinal conditions, but it can be due to foods, especially in children, and can well be a forerunner of migraine headaches later in life. Deafness can be the result of an allergic process in the ear. It is due to swelling and accumulated fluid in the middle ear. All parts of the hearing apparatus may be swollen from the external ear canal to the eustachian tube in back of the throat. If the swelling is not reduced, infection, which will further aggravate the impaired hearing, can take place. This type of conductive deafness is the most common type of allergy of the ear.
There are a series of conditions called collagen diseases. They include rheumatic fever, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, dermatomyositis and periarteritis nodosa, as well as several others. They are merely mentioned so the reader will know that, although they are considered hypersensitivity diseases, the allergy has not been clearly established so that it may be of practical use in treatment. Investigators have produced similar diseases in animals by the use of drugs and horse serum. It is well to know that we are making serious inroads into these one time hopeless diseases. The following pages will reveal interesting allergic problems that illustrate how varied the subject can be and clarify the fact that any tissue or organ of the body may be involved.
Those who didn’t know Frank T. intimately thought he was the most fortunate creature alive. Not many men at the age of 40 were so successful in business. Not many men were able to retire at this age.
Those who did know Frank T. knew that, as a human dynamo, there wasn’t anything in the world he wanted more than to be able to stay on the job.
He had no alternative. He had visited every prominent heart specialist in the country, but all he learned was that “a certain condition existed.” Judging from the number of times Frank T. had lapsed into unconsciousness during recent years, it was apparent that a certain condition existed. But, regardless of the number of cardiographs taken, or of the number of fees paid for professional services, he invariably went home without knowing anything further about the ailment, why it existed or what could be done about it.
All the physicians prescribed rest, so Frank spent the first year of his premature retirement resting. Much to his disgust, he felt like a fifth wheel on a wagon. But, worst of all, his condition had not improved.
The doctors agreed that his coma resembled death more closely than anything they had ever witnessed, but all they did was shrug their shoulders and send Frank more statements.
Frank planned to explore the European field for new cardiac specialists. There were several in Vienna, one in Paris, one in Berlin and a couple in London.
Money was no object. If there was a cure, he wanted it, even if it cost him his last million. The next transatlantic liner carried him to the European specialists. They, too, were convinced that a certain condition existed, but were reluctant to venture further into the matter.
To say the least, Frank T. was disconcerted. As he traveled from one European city to the next, he rationalized that at least the scenery was beautiful even if the doctors were unsatisfactory.
It all seemed hopeless, but Frank gave the Europeans every opportunity to make good. He spent nearly three years trying out the various spas and rest cures recommended by the doctors.
The Riviera was beautiful; the sunset on Lake Lucerne was gorgeous and a small picturesque resort buried away in southern France was peaceful and colorful. What’s more, the chef there was a master in the art of barbecuing pork over an open fire.
Frank’s condition refused to respond to this treatment. As a matter of fact, he found that his spells occurred more often. His thoughts wandered back to his native land. He longed to hear the roar of the elevated and the blast of automobile horns. He yearned for the sight of a million people pouring into the subways at five o’clock. He wondered whether that hole-in-the-wall just off Broadway, near his office, still turned out the best pork sausage and pancakes in the city.
Frank T. made up his mind. As impulsively as he had gone to Europe, he returned to the United States. He had breakfast at the hole-in-the-wall, and then headed toward his family doctor’s office.
Frank suddenly felt very ill. He recognized it as the beginning of a spell, but there wasn’t anything he could do. He grew weak, then faint, and everything went blank.
He was in a drugstore when he regained consciousness. Standing over him were two men, obviously a pharmacist and a physician.
“You’ve had a close shave,” said one of the men. “Don’t be afraid. I just gave you an injection of adrenalin—heart stimulant, you understand.”
Frank sat up. “You’re telling me about adrenalin,” he said. “It’s been keeping me alive for six years.”
Becoming interested, the doctor asked several questions. Frank answered all the questions and expected the customary diagnosis, “a certain condition.” This time he was surprised, for the physician went a step further.
“You have a certain unusual condition, and, if you will come to my office, I rather believe that I can find out what’s causing it.”
Within three; weeks, Frank’s food tendencies were broken down. He was shocked to learn that those delicious pork sausages were his “poison.” Enlightened, he then recalled that his spells at the resort in southern France occurred precisely on the evenings when the chef made those delectable pork roasts over the open fire.
Scientifically, his disorder was known as Ménière’s disease. Acting as an irritant, the pork would cause a swelling of a brain nerve, then of the brain. The pressure created against his inner ears brought about the spells of coma.
Frank T. has been under strict diet restriction for over a year now, and has yet to suffer his first spell since swearing off pork.
Another interesting case was that of Lea B., a 14-year-old girl who suffered from rather large black and blue areas on the skin. About three and a half months before she consulted an allergist, Lea had been exposed to a high concentration of mineral spirits for at least three days. Within a week, she became nauseated and vomited bloody material. This was followed by painful joints, especially the hips and knees, and small hemorrhages in the skin. This condition was present most of the time, and became worse at times when there appeared to be blood in the urine and stools, with swelling of the face, feet and ankles. There were severe joint pains and small hives all over the body. This condition was persisting much too long so consultations were held.
Study revealed that allergy was strongly positive in the family, and that Lea also had her share of it as eczema and, later, hay fever, which was always worse during the Johnson and Bermuda grass season. It was of interest to note that, when she was a child, her father had been in the paint business and often cleaned brushes with mineral spirits. Her home was adjacent to the store, and the child played there most of the time.
Except for some kidney irritation and the trouble in her skin and joints, no serious blood diseases were found. After complete allergic study and management, in which a program of food avoidance, mainly of milk, eggs and fish, was instituted and hyposensitization to the grasses, dust and several other inhalants was begun, the black and blue skin areas began clearing, and all other symptoms subsided; complete recovery resulted.
When is a sore throat not a sore throat? Sounds like a foolish question, but there is a sensible answer, and the next case illustrates this fact.
The sore throat in question happened to Robert F., a domesticated young husband who felt quite at home in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, Robert’s wife considered him a backseat cook of the most provoking type. For weeks, she had threatened a sit-down strike, but either Robert didn’t scare easily or he didn’t believe his wife would carry out her threat. Consequently, the backseat cooking continued until one day when the breaking point was reached. Mrs. F. not only went on a strike, but she informed hubby that she was going to give him two or three weeks to get the culinary habit out of his system. She was going to visit her mother, and he would not only have to cook for himself, but also wash his own dishes.
It was this last blow that hurt, but hubby took it like a man, and did an amateur job of concealing disapproval.
With Mrs. F. away, Robert proceeded to prove that he could take care of himself. Aside from being lonesome, he didn’t mind his situation. He could turn out a tasty meal.
It was on the second morning after Mrs. F.’s departure that Robert’s sore throat appeared. He dismissed it with an “Oh, well,” and proceeded to gargle hot salt water.
Taking a small bag of salt, a teaspoon and a tumbler to the office with him, he would gargle each hour, then swallow imaginary lumps to determine whether or not the sore throat had improved. But, alas, it was just as bad as ever, and now his tonsils were irritated by the hot salt water.
At the end of the day, Robert went home, made dinner and gargled before retiring. The next morning, he awoke to find that he had not thrown off his malady, and so he repeated his hourly gargling for the rest of the day. The sore throat was still there, although it had shifted from the vicinity of his tonsils to a spot inches deeper in his throat.
For the second day, Robert F. endured the agony of a “galloping sore throat,” but he kept his courage as he went home and cooked his dinner for the third evening. He had already decided that, if the next day brought no improvement, he would have the family doctor paint the throat with silver nitrate.
Twenty-four hours later, he made application for the interior paint job.
“Strange thing about that sore throat,” said the doctor in a puzzled tone of voice. “It doesn’t look like an infection.”
Twenty-four hours later, Robert F. returned to report that the silver nitrate might just as well have been left in the bottle. The family physician wrapped up a few pills and issued them to his patient with instructions. The patient would have agreed to anything if he could only get rid of that sore throat; it made him feel miserable.
Several more days passed. There was nobody to offer Robert sympathy, for his sore throat had not departed. He was increasingly a sadder man as he came home each evening to make dinner.
By this time, he had taken matters into his own hands. He had even tried painting his own throat with a horrible-tasting antiseptic, but somehow he only seemed to “chase” the irritation from one region to another.
Several days later, Robert received a letter from his wife, telling him that she would be back in a few days. The news was great, except that, if he didn’t rid himself of the sore throat, he’d never hear the end of it.
The thought upset him so that he worried all day. This brought a clear case of acid indigestion. Result: before cooking dinner that evening, he took some baking soda.
“Gosh!” he exclaimed, as he swallowed heavily three or four times. “It’s gone!” Racing madly for the phone, he called the doctor to tell him the news.
“You mean that the soreness disappeared the moment the baking soda touched it?” repeated the doctor.
“Just as though it had never been sore,” explained Mr. F. “What do you make of it?”
“Chemically speaking, you must have had an acid condition which was neutralized by the baking soda,” replied the doctor. “Tell me, have you been eating very much of any one particular food since your throat became sore?”
“Well, yes,” Robert said hesitatingly. “You see, I love pork sausage, but my wife refuses to make it very often because it is quite spicy. With her away for the past couple of weeks, I thought this was a good chance for me to have as much of it as I wanted. The day she left town, I bought five pounds of it, and I’ve had it for breakfast and dinner every day since,” he admitted.
A visit to the doctor’s office the next day proved conclusively to Robert F. that his body was extremely sensitive to pork. While he ate it occasionally, a toxic condition never existed. It was only after Ins continued diet of this particular food that the quantity became sufficient to bring about its manifestation.
“What you actually had,” explained the doctor, “was a strawberry rash., Only it wasn’t caused by strawberries, and it appeared in your throat, rather than on the outside of your body.”
That the orthopedic physicians are becoming increasingly more aware of the existence of specific weaknesses in the human body is well exemplified by the following narrative.
Bobby W. was unofficially judged a perfect baby. When he was born, the pediatricians said they hadn’t seen such a well-formed child in a long time. Bobby’s parents were tickled pink. This meant that their son was, physically speaking, going to have an even chance to lick life.
Mother followed the doctor’s orders, and Bobby came along fine. The years slipped by, and there was a physical checkup every six months. Mrs. W. decided that this was the only way to lean of an ailment before it became serious.
Suddenly, at the age of eight, Bobby developed a limp in his right leg. The parents were worried, for infantile paralysis was prevalent in the county. Terror-stricken, Mrs. W. phoned for the doctor, who convinced her that the paralysis theory was out, although he wasn’t quite certain of the nature of this ailment.
Within a few days, the limp had disappeared almost as abruptly as it had come. A week later it was back.
This time, the pediatrician referred Mrs. W. to an orthopedic physician, who X-rayed the child’s bones and their connecting tissues. Here he noticed something unusual, for the tissue in the right hip joint was inflamed and obviously enlarged.
“Has the boy had any falls lately?” the doctor asked.
Mrs. W. convinced him that there had been none of a serious nature.
The physician was bewildered. Here was a case unlike any he had ever encountered. He X-rayed the hip joint regularly for the next five or six days, and saw the inflamed condition return to normal before his very eyes. Once again, the child was walking without a limp. Once again, the X-ray pictures showed absolutely nothing.
“I’d like you to get in touch with me if this thing happens again,” the doctor requested of Mrs. W.
It wasn’t until the next recurrence of the swollen hip joint that the orthopedic physician made up his mind to try a different angle. There had been previous instances in which testing for sensitivity through intramuscular injections had revealed the contributing factors.
“We’re going to try something,” he informed Mrs. W. “And I feel confident that, in a very short time, we shall know what is causing the trouble.”
Bobby was taken to a specialist in skin-testing and diagnosis, who ran down the foods over a period of several weeks. Bobby showed a reaction to fish, and markedly to salmon. Further experimentation proved that, when the boy ate salmon, he developed a case of hives about his right hip joint. The joint, in turn, would swell, making it difficult for the boy to walk.
The strict elimination of salmon from the child’s diet has, of course, done away with the annoying limp.
Then there was the unusual case of Mary D., who developed an irritating rash on her legs after being splashed with slush while waiting for a streetcar.
Hers was one of those rare cases of sensitivity toward weather which was treated by cool baths in which the temperature of the water was lowered at regular intervals. Eventually, Miss D. immunized herself against irritations from cold and dampness.
It is this same sensitivity toward temperature changes that causes the shock known to bathers as “cramps,” accountable for many drownings each year.
Written By: Jack A. Rudolph, M.D. & Burton M. Rudolph. M.D., Continue Reading: Some Psychosomatic Aspects of Allergy