Egg allergy: An introduction

People can be allergic to many foods like seafood, nuts, and even eggs.

Egg allergy is the most common type of allergy, especially in children, and can occur a few minutes to a few hours after consuming eggs.

It is rarely fatal, and usual symptoms include rash, hives, nasal congestion, and vomiting.

Egg allergy occurs because the body thinks that the egg proteins are harmful, and the body’s immune cells attack them by releasing histamine and other chemicals that trigger off an allergic reaction and give rise to the symptoms.

Both the egg whites and the yolks have the potential to cause allergy, but usually, it is the egg whites that cause it.

What are the symptoms of egg intolerance? 

The symptoms of egg allergy can appear immediately or even be delayed and look after 48-72 hrs of consumption.

The symptoms vary from person to person, and so does the intensity of the symptoms. Common symptoms of egg intolerance include:

How do you treat egg intolerance? 

To treat the condition, it needs to be diagnosed first.

To diagnose egg allergy, your physician will begin eliminating the other possible causes of your symptoms.

Conventional diagnostic methods or tests to determine egg intolerance are: 

The best way to treat egg allergy or intolerance is to avoid eggs of all types.

In many cases, people are tolerant of well-cooked egg-products such as baked dishes.

However, the most commonly used method to treat the allergy and alleviate the symptoms is the use of anti-histaminic, that reduce or cause the symptoms to subside.

In case of a severe reaction or emergencies, it is best to visit your doctor, who will most likely administer a shot.

How do you outgrow egg allergy?

Food allergies can be outgrown, but it largely depends upon the type of food and the degree of severity of the allergy.

When an individual has a food allergy, his/her body’s immune system mistakes the food as something that is harmful and immediately releases antibodies like IgE.

Every time the individual consumes the food, the body releases these antibodies, and allergic symptoms appear.

One can be allergic to many foods, even common ones like milk, soy, egg, and wheat/gluten.

However, children with these food allergies usually outgrow them as they enter their teens or early adulthood.

If children who are allergic to eggs can eat baked or cooked egg dishes, they will eventually outgrow their egg allergy as they grow up.

To confirm whether a child or adult has outgrown their food allergy, a test called the ‘food challenge’ is recommended wherein the child is given small quantities of the food in a controlled setting.

A small amount of the food is given first, followed by doubling the quantity every 15-30 minutes.

However, this is not done in case an individual has a history of anaphylaxis to the food.

Who are at risk of developing egg allergy?

The leading cause for egg allergy is the individual’s body’s immune system reaction that considers the foods as harmful.

However, there are a few risk factors that increase one’s chance of developing an egg allergy:

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Egg allergy: What’s the genetic link?

SNP rs16823014 of the ABCB11 gene is associated with egg allergy measurement.

The G allele is the more commonly found in the population than the A allele.

However, the presence of the A allele increases one’s risk of developing egg allergy.

There is a significant association between egg allergy and  rs250585, which is located on chromosome 16.

The C allele is more commonly present in the population than the T allele.

However, individuals with the T allele are at an increased risk of developing egg allergy.

SNP rs6498482 is associated with the ERCC4 gene.

The T allele is more commonly found in the population.

However, the presence of the C allele increases the risk of egg allergy in individuals.

[table id=156 /]

How to prevent egg allergy?

Alternatives to someone with egg allergy 

Eggs are excellent sources of proteins and vitamins.

They are highly recommended to be included in your daily diet.

Eggs are also routinely used in baking products and baked dishes because they act as binders.

However, what can people with egg allergies do?

Well, there are many egg alternatives that one can choose from such as:

While there are many alternatives to eggs to be used as binders in baked dishes, how can one replace the egg from the breakfast table?

Here are some high protein alternatives of eggs:

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/snp/rs250585#frequency_tab

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What is hay fever?

Hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis is an allergic condition that develops as a response to a wide range of indoor and outdoor allergens that can be inhaled. 

How do I know if I have hay fever?

Numerous allergens may trigger an allergic response.

The signs and symptoms that follow an allergic exposure, indicating hay fever are:

How do I know that I have hay fever and not the common cold?

There is a high chance of misinterpreting the condition as a common cold due to the close similarities in the symptoms of both; hence, it is necessary to know the difference for appropriate treatment.

There are certain features, in particular, which distinguish the common cold from allergic rhinitis:

[table id=131 /]

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What causes hay fever?

There exists a wide range of allergens that are capable of triggering the allergy, a few of which are:

 The underlying cause for allergy has been identified as regular inhalation of an extremely tiny (smaller than the tip of a pin) dry protein called pollen.

Pollens are invisible and are usually smaller than 40 microns in diameter.

They are carried by air and enter the respiratory pathway on inhalation, and as a result, it gets lodged in the nose, causing immediate sneezing, itchy nose, etc.

What is the genetic background of allergic rhinitis?

Though the apparent reason for hay fever is the exposure to pollen, a person's genetic makeup can make them more susceptible to developing this allergy.

A few genes underlying the reason behind an allergic reaction are- 

 In hay fever, certain variant forms of the above genes are implicated:

HLADQB1

The gene is a member of the Human Leucocyte Antigen family of genes that is responsible for secreting proteins that trigger an immune response by displaying foreign peptides to the immune system.

The single nucleotide polymorphism in HLADQB1 implicated in hay fever causes hyperactivity of the gene. Thus an immune response is elicited; consequently, harmless pollen is identified as a harmful foreign substance, resulting in an allergy.

[table id=132 /]

IL33

IL33 gene is a part of the interleukin family and is responsible for the activation of various components of the immune system like basophils, eosinophils, and natural killer cells.

A mutation in the gene, found in hay fever leads to increased activity of IL33, thereby increased action of the immune system components, which results in an allergic outcome to exposure of mere pollens.

[table id=133 /]

SMAD3

The SMAD3 gene provides instructions to synthesize the SMAD3 proteins, which upon activation by TGFB protein plays a major role in the activation of various genes, in cellular processes like cell differentiation, proliferation, etc.

A mutation in this gene results in an increased differentiation and proliferation of immune cells.

[table id=134 /]

TLR1

TLR1 (Toll-Like Receptor 1) encodes pattern-recognition receptors whose role is to recognize external pathogens and thereby activate appropriate immune responses.

The presence of T allele, the risk allele, leads to the sensitivity of pollen, therefore, hyper-activation of the corresponding immune response. 

[table id=135 /]

IL1R1

The gene encodes for a particular cytokine protein of the interleukin receptor family.

It is involved in immune and inflammatory responses. 

A single nucleotide polymorphism in the gene triggers an allergic reaction to pollen.

[table id=136 /]

How do you treat the allergy?

Managing the condition is a major treatment approach in allergies; hay fever can be managed by taking certain measures:

Treatment options for hay fever include:

A diet to manage hay fever:

Including a few vegetables and fruits to your diet will help in alleviating the symptoms of allergy:

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References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4280183/

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Upload your DNA raw data to Xcode Life. Our Gene Allergy report analyzes hay fever, dust mite allergy, pollen allergy, and 13 other such traits.

The HLA gene

HLA or the Human Leukocyte Antigen complex is a group of proteins that are involved in the regulation of the immune system of our body.

The HLA is the human equivalent of the Major Histocompatibility Complex or MHC that is found in many other animals.

The HLA gene is involved in providing the instructions for the formation of these HLA proteins.

The MHC in humans is made up of over 200 genes that are placed closely on chromosome 6 and are broadly divided into three groups:

There are 3 classes of the MHC I gene namely, HLA- A, HLA- B, and HLA- C.

The 6 classes of the MHC II gene include HLA-DPA1, HLA-DQA1, HLA-DQB1, HLA-DRA, and HLA-DRB1.

The MHC III genes are also involved in immunity and inflammation.

The histocompatibility genes have many genetic variations involving a lot of single-nucleotide polymorphisms.

Some of these variants are known to be associated with many forms of allergies.

HLA gene and gluten sensitivity

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye.

It is the component that allows the flour to rise, holds the dough and allows absorption of liquids.

This property is also used to thicken sauces and gravies.

However, there is a small percentage of people who cannot tolerate gluten and are called gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive individuals.

Gluten sensitivity is genetically linked.

Two genes namely HLA DQ2 and HLA DQ8 have primarily been linked to celiac disease (the most severe form of gluten sensitivity).

Other genes such as HLA DQ1 and HLA DQ3 are also believed to predispose an individual to gluten sensitivity.

Though only 1 % of the population has celiac disease, a larger part of the population suffers from gluten sensitivity.

Every individual gets two copies of the HLA DQ gene, one from their mother and one from their father.

The 2 copies of the HLA DQ gene you get determines your sensitivity to gluten.

[table id=112 /]

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HLA and allergy 

Commonly found allergic conditions such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema occur due to increased levels of Immunoglobulin E(IgE) produced in the blood in response to certain allergens.

Out of the many studies that are currently underway to understand the nature and cause of this IgE allergic response, one genetic epidemiological study in atopic individuals shows strong associations between HLA class II genotypes and IgE response to antigens.

These HLA molecules are membrane-bound glycoproteins that bind processed antigen polypeptides and present them to T cells.

The HLA class I antigens are found on all nucleated cells and platelets and are cytotoxic in nature.

The HLA class II molecules are found mainly on B cells, activated T cells, and monocytes/macrophages.

There are many studies that have shown some form of a strong association between HLA genes and IgE mediated allergic responses.

There is still some uncertainty over the exact role of HLA class II genetic polymorphisms in triggering these responses.

But, there is a certainty that HLA genes have a crucial role to play in allergic reactions.

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HLA and dust mites 

Dust mite allergy is a type of allergy to tiny bugs that live in house dust.

The symptoms of dust mite allergy are very similar to that of hay fever and include sneezing and runny nose.

Certain genetic variants of the HLA-DRA gene have been associated with the increased risk for dust mite allergy.

[table id=113 /]

HLA and pet allergy 

Pet allergy is a type of allergy that occurs in individuals due to exposure to certain proteins in the saliva, hair or skin of pet animals like cats, dogs, hamsters, etc.

The symptoms of pet allergies are similar to any other allergies and include incessant sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes, nasal congestion, cough, etc.

[table id=114 /]

HLA and peanut allergy 

Unlike many other allergies, peanut allergy can lead to a grade IV allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be fatal if not treated in time.

Common symptoms of anaphylaxis include redness or swelling on the skin, runny nose, itching, tingling, and tightening around the mouth and throat.

Individuals may also experience digestive problems like diarrhea, and shortness of breath with wheezing.

[table id=115 /]

The presence of the G allele on the SNP rs7192 of the HLA-DRA gene reduces the risk of developing a peanut allergy.

[table id=116 /]

Another SNP rs9275596 is associated with the increased susceptibility to develop peanut allergy in people of European descent.

The presence of the T allele is associated with the decreased risk of developing a peanut allergy.

[table id=117 /]

HLA and pollen allergy

Pollen allergy is basically the allergy to pollen that is shed by plants during the spring or summer seasons.

The symptoms of pollen allergy are similar to other allergies.

Presence of the T allele in SNP 2155219 increases one’s risk of developing hay fever and allergy to grass pollen.

Home remedies for allergies

While it is possible to avoid some of our known allergens,  we still tend to encounter an allergic reaction every now and then.

Even though there are anti-allergic medicines such as antihistamines that can be taken to resolve an allergic reaction, many people prefer to use some natural home remedies. 

Here is a list of home remedies which have proven to be effective in treating allergic reactions:

HLA antibodies 

Antibodies are substances that are produced by the human body in response to foreign substances that enter the body.

HLA antibodies are also formed in pregnant women.

During blood transfusions and organ donation, these HLA antibodies are not harmful to the person producing it.

However, when there are HLA antibodies already present in the blood or plasma products that are transfused, it can create complications to the recipient.

This HLA antibodies-containing transfusion can lead to a serious complication called Transfusion-Related Acute Lung Injury.

This is characterized by a sudden acute respiratory distress post-transfusion.

A blood test can help detect the presence of HLA antibodies in one’s blood.

If you test positive for HLA antibodies, it poses no risk to you but you will not qualify for plasma or plasma blood products donation. 

However, you can still donate your red blood cells.

References

  1. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/genefamily/hla
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474884/pdf/thorax00313-0005.pdf

What is photic sneeze reflex?

Photic sneeze reflex is also known as Autosomal Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome (ACHOO).

It is a reflex condition that causes uncontrollable sneezing in response to different stimuli like bright lights, eating or periocular injections.

About 10-35% of the world’s population is affected by this condition.

However, the exact mechanism of condition development is not properly understood.

What is ACHOO?

ACHOO is an abbreviated form for Autosomal Compelling Helio-Ophthalmic Outburst Syndrome, also known as photic sneeze reflex.

Individuals who suffer from this condition begin sneezing uncontrollably when they are exposed to bright sunlight.

The exact cause of this condition is not known but many suspect that it may occur due to the over-excitability of the visual cortex on exposure to light.

This leads to strong activation of the secondary somatosensory areas in the brain resulting in sneezing.

Can sunshine make you sneeze?

Have you ever stepped into bright sunlight and felt the uncontrollable tickle in your nose that made you sneeze incessantly?

Well, this is because you may be suffering from a condition called photic sneeze reflex.

To a small percentage of the world’s population, sunshine can make them sneeze.

How common is photic sneeze reflex?

It is a genetic condition and can be inherited from a parent.

If an individual is affected, there is a 50% chance that their child will be affected with the same condition.

What causes photic sneeze reflex?

Sneezing is one of our body’s uncontrollable reflexes.

The most common cause of it is an irritation in the nose.

Signals from the nose are then sent to the brain that results in the powerful release of air through the nose and mouth to expel the irritant.

Along with the irritant, what also gets expelled is mucus from the nasal passages and all this brought about by contraction of many muscles in the respiratory tract and the eyelids.

But, in the case of photic sneeze reflex, there is no irritant.

Though the exact cause of the sneezing is not known, it is said to be a result of some issue along the trigeminal nerve.

The nerve is the 5th cranial nerve and has three prominent branches – to the eyes, nasal cavity and the jaws.

Since it is in a very crowded place, there can be mixing up of signals and things can go wrong to precipitate a reflex.

The bright light is an irritant to the eyes and causes the pupils of the eye to contract, there might be a confusion in signaling, leading the nose to also perceive it as an irritant, leading to sneezing.

It is also suspected that the photic sneeze reflex occurs as a result of ‘parasympathetic generalization’ which means that if one part of the parasympathetic reflexes (contracting of the pupil in response to bright light) is activated, other parts (nasal cavity) get activated as well.

Does your heart stop for a brief period when you sneeze?

No, your heart doesn’t stop when you sneeze, though you may feel so.

When you sneeze, your eyes automatically close tightly and the intrathoracic pressure inside your chest increases momentarily.

Due to this increased pressure, the blood flow to your heart reduces and the heart adjusts this decreased flow by changing its regular heart beat.

But, the electrical activity of the heart does not stop.

What triggers a sneeze?

Some common trigger factors include:

When an individual is allergic to any of the above trigger factors, the allergic cells in their nasal mucous membrane release a substance known as histamine.

This histamine acts on the various parts of the nasal mucous membrane and causes one to sneeze.

Even in case of the common cold, the mucus build-up in the nose stimulates the nasal mucosa to release histamine and cause you to sneeze.

Is photic sneeze reflex hereditary?

Photic sneeze reflex is a completely hereditary condition.

It is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner and affects both men and women alike.

An affected individual has a 50% chance to pass on his/her ‘Achoo gene’ to each of their children.

Is the way you sneeze hereditary?

Sneezing is an uncontrollable reflex of our body.

The way or pattern of your sneeze cannot be learned on exposure to the environment and is often innate or hereditary.

The way you sneeze has a hereditary pattern.

Photic sneeze reflex is a type of sneezing reflex which is completely hereditary in nature.

Food products that trigger you to sneeze

Why does pepper make you sneeze?

Sniffing pepper and sneezing is commonly seen in most cartoons.

Well, even in real life, pepper does make you sneeze.

This is because pepper contains an irritant called piperine, which irritates the nose.

All types of peppers contain this alkaloid called piperine.

This piperine stimulates nerve endings inside the mucous membrane of the nose and precipitates sneezing.

By doing so, the nose wants to try and remove this irritant.

Can eating chocolate make you sneeze?

Yes, eating dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa can make you sneeze.

The exact reason why dark chocolate causes some people to sneeze is still unknown.

This is seen in only many individuals.

Is it normal to sneeze every day?

It is perfectly normal to sneeze and blow your nose less than 4 times daily.

Any number above this is considered to be rhinitis, which is an inflammatory condition of the nasal cavity.

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Why is your sneeze really loud?

Sneezing often occurs due to an irritant that tickles the nerve endings in the nose.

The nerves send a signal tot he brainstem which automatically prompts the lungs to inhale deeply.

The vocal cords shut, the eyes close and air bursts out of the mouth and the nose.

Though the mechanism for a sneeze is the same in everyone, the loudness of the sneeze is based on one’s lung capacity and size of pre-sneeze inhale.

Can you sneeze with your mouth shut?

Yes, many people sneeze with their mouth shut, especially when they are very conscious about loud sneezing in public.

However, halting or blocking a sneeze by closing nostrils or mouth can lead to many complications like pneudomediastinum, eardrum perforation or rupture of nerves in the brain.

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Is it normal for newborns to sneeze and cough?

Sneezing is perfectly normal when seeing in newborns.

Just like in adults, sneezing in newborns is a reflex. Newborn babies sneeze a lot because they have to.

They have smaller nasal passages and need to clean their passages frequently to be able to breathe properly.

They sneeze to get rid of dust, smoke, breast milk and anything that can irritate their small passages.

In fact, babies use sneezing as a natural defense mechanism to keep away germs and other irritants out of their system.

However, when your newborn sneezes frequently and has any of the following symptoms additionally, you need to make a visit to the doctor immediately:

Why do you sneeze twice in a row?

We sneeze to get rid of some irritant in our nose or nasal passage.

We often end up sneezing not once but at least twice in a row.

This happens when one sneeze isn't enough to remove the irritant from the nose.

In fact, sometimes it takes more than 2 sneezes in a row and you end up sneezing 3-4 times a row.

Can you sneeze in your sleep?

We never sneeze in our sleep.

The reason for this is Rapid Eye Movement atonia which occurs during certain periods of sleep.

Due to this, the neurotransmitters that are responsible for detecting allergens and precipitating a sneeze are also shut down.

As a result, one doesn't sneeze while sleeping.

However, sometimes when a large enough irritant enters the nose while sleeping and obstructs the regular breathing pattern in some way, the body immediately reacts to remove the irritant, in which case a sleeping person wakes up to sneeze.

What are the types of sneezes?

The way one sneezes is linked to one’s heredity.

How you sneeze is innate and cannot be learned or developed.

But, people do alter their sneeze especially when they are in a public place.

However, sneezes are of 4 types (based on a certain personality):

  1. Sensitive sneezer: This individual sneezes only once and does so by turning away from the people present.
  2. Be Right sneezer: This individual is most likely to cover his/her mouth during a sneeze than other types.
  3. Get it Done sneezer: This individual has loud sneezes but tries to control or stop it if possible.
  4. Enthusiastic sneezer: This individual loves to make a big deal out of his/her sneezing and so sneezes loudly, often in a funny manner and there are often multiple sneezes

Is sneezing contagious?

Sneezing is not contagious.

Looking at someone sneeze, as seen in the case of yawning, cannot make one automatically sneeze because sneeze is a reflex that occurs when there is an irritant in the nose.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photic_sneeze_reflex
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK109193/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/12012947/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-stop-sneezing#summary

Xcode Life  Gene Allergy Report covers photic sneeze, milk allergy, gluten sensitivity and more than 12 traits.

What is histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance occurs when there is a buildup of histamine in the body.

It is a chemical responsible for a few major functions:

When histamine levels get too high or when it cannot break down properly, it can affect your normal bodily functions.

Which foods are high in histamine?

In general, fermented food products have the highest histamine content, while fresh foods have the least.

Fermented dairy products and meats, pickles, and alcoholic beverages are high in histamine.

Do antihistamines help histamine intolerance?

Antihistamines help in wearing off the effects of histamine temporarily.

They simply block the receptors that histamine molecules bind to, and prevent the interaction.

But once the antihistamines are removed from the system, histamine acts up and intolerance sets in.

What is a natural antihistamine? Does turmeric act as an antihistamine?

Vitamin C extract, butterbur extract, and probiotics are naturally available antihistamines.

Pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which is known to show antihistamine properties.

Studies are underway to declare turmeric as an antihistamine.

It is observed to suppress the immune responses that occur.

Can antihistamines be taken every day?

Different brands of over-the-counter antihistamines function differently, so the frequency at which it can be taken needs to be checked with a clinician.

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What are the symptoms of high histamine levels?

The above mentioned are common symptoms that indicate histamine levels are higher than normal.

How do I know if I have histamine intolerance?

The most common symptoms are related to the stimulation of the immune system, like itching, sneezing, hives, nasal congestion, and watering eyes.

Gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and pain in the abdomen also occur.

Can histamine cause itchy skin?

Yes! Histamine is solely responsible for triggering immune responses that result in symptoms like itchy skin, rashes, swelling, etc.

Urticaria is a skin rash condition caused by histamine triggers.

Also called as hives, these ideally occur when the body responds to allergens.

How do you lower histamine levels?

One way to lower histamine levels is by blocking the absorption of histamine into the bloodstream.

Heart medications, antibiotics, malaria, and TB medications disrupt the enzymes that enable histamine absorption.

OTC painkillers like Aspirin and Diclofenac are also routinely used for lowering histamine levels.

Does magnesium lower histamine levels?

Magnesium significantly affects histamine metabolism.

Magnesium increases the degradation of extracellular histamine.

Reduced levels of magnesium cause a spurt in the production of histamine from histidine, its parent molecule.

Around 400-500 mg of magnesium, a day is studied to have improved effects.

What can I eat for breakfast on a low histamine diet?

Adding organic poultry, asparagus, beets, butternut squash, and fresh veggies and fruits like berries, cherries, and melons to your breakfast platter help in keeping the histamine levels under check.

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What causes too much histamine in the body?

One cause of increased histamine is mastocytosis, a condition in which mast cells proliferate excessively and accumulate just under the epidermis.

These accumulations are hotspots for histamine releases.

Are the following foods high in histamine content?

Chocolate:

Sadly, yes! Studies have shown that the consumption of chocolate increases histamine levels.

In normal situations, it will stop with being a tasty treat.

But when a person already suffers from a high content of extracellular histamine, chocolate simply adds to their woes.

Coconut:

Coconut contains stearic acid, which gets stored as fat molecules in the body, to be metabolized later.

But it has no direct effect on histamine release and is safe to consume.

Oatmeal:

Oatmeal has a very low histamine content and can be a great addition to your breakfast menu.

Coffee:

Coffee is high in histamines, and when consumed in large quantities can elicit symptoms of histamine intolerance. 

Conditions related to histamine intolerance

Does histamine cause anxiety?

When histamine intolerance sets in, it causes dilation of blood vessels, drop in blood pressure, and other cardiovascular effects that predispose an individual to anxiety or panic attacks.

Can histamine intolerance cause anaphylaxis?

Histamine intolerance progresses with negative effects on the cardiovascular and immune systems.

This may be a cause for anaphylactic shocks that stem from hypersensitive immune responses.

Does histamine cause inflammation?

Histamine is said to trigger a set of chemical reactions that result in inflammation of the cells of the immune system.

An increase in the histamine levels will directly link to an inflammatory response.

Are chronic urticaria and histamine intolerance related?

Chronic urticaria is a long-lasting condition of rashes, hives, and itching on the skin. 

This is established by histamine molecules constantly triggering cells of the immune system to sustain the immune response.

Are histamine deficiency and intolerance linked to paranoia, derealization, and nightmares?

There are no direct associations between histamine and paranoia, derealization and/or nightmares.

It has been linked to anxiety and panic attacks at the latest, but that is due to the other symptoms.

Mental illnesses are not related to histamine fluctuations on paper.

Does exercise increase histamine levels?

Interesting studies on exercise and histamine levels have been successful in establishing a link between the two.

During exercise, the body goes into a mode that favors vasodilation to increase the oxygen content being absorbed.

This is done by employing histamine molecules to trigger blood vessel dilation and related effects.

Although these do not stem from allergic reactions, the establishment of vasodilation is carried out using histamine molecules.

Does stress cause histamine release?

Stress stimulates the brain to start initiating relaxative mechanisms, like vasodilation to lower the blood pressure.

This is done with the help of histamine molecules, which trigger such mechanisms.

Thus, stress is found to increase histamine release in the body.

How does histamine affect the brain?

Studies have shown that histamine acts as a neurotransmitter by binding to different receptors across different parts of the human brain, thus causing varied effects on the human body.

Histamine is mainly responsible for keeping the brain ‘awake’ and alert.

It is also seen to influence eating habits, as it tends to decrease the urge to eat.

It is also hinted to help in reducing alcohol intake.

What is the difference between a mast cell disease and histamine intolerance?

Mast cell diseases are experienced as a result of an immune response towards an allergen.

However, histamine intolerance simply triggers the same response, in the absence of an allergen.

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What are allergies?

An allergy occurs when your body overreacts to foreign particles (which are usually harmless) such as pollen, food, dust, drugs, etc.

The substances that cause such a reaction are known as “Allergens.”

What are the symptoms of allergy?

The following are common symptoms of an allergy:

  1. Sneezing
  2. Itchy, runny or blocked nose
  3. Itchy, red and watery eyes
  4. Wheezing
  5. Shortness of breath
  6. Cough
  7. Tightness in chest
  8. Hives
  9. Swollen lips, face, eyes or tongue
  10. Stomach ache
  11. Nausea
  12. Vomiting
  13. Diarrhea
  14. Dry, red, cracked skin

They vary based on the type of allergen and the way you get into contact with it.

What foods cause allergy?

Some common allergy-causing foods include:

  1. Milk
  2. Wheat (Gluten allergy)
  3. Soy
  4. Fish
  5. Shellfish
  6. Nuts: peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts & pecans
  7. Soy
  8. Corn
  9. Meat (beef, chicken, pork, and mutton)
  10. Seeds: poppy, sesame, sunflower
  11. Spices: garlic, coriander, mustard, caraway

What are the most common allergies?

A lot of things can trigger an allergic reaction.

It occurs when your body attacks something harmless such as pollen, foods, dander, etc. defensively.

The most common allergies include:

Pollen allergy

When you sneeze or have a runny/stuffy nose, itchy & watery eyes when you’re exposed to pollen from plants like grasses, weeds, trees, etc.

This allergy can be treated with OTC drugs and allergy shots.

You could also prevent those symptoms by staying indoors on windy days when the pollen counts are high or use air conditioners.

Pet dander allergy

Some of you might be allergic to proteins in your pet animal’s saliva or the oil glands in their skin.

You could use a HEPA filter or get a preventive allergy shot.

You could also try avoiding pets into your room and ensure he bathes regularly.

Dust mite allergy

You could get allergic to the tiny bugs that live in your mattresses, bedding, upholstery, carpets, curtains, etc.

They feed on your dead skin cells and thrive in high humidity.

To avoid this, use hypoallergenic beddings, pillows, mattress covers, etc. and ensure that you wash them every week in hot water.

Also try to avoid dust-collecting items like curtains, carpet, etc.

Insect stings

It could also cause skin redness or itching which might last for days or weeks together.

In some rare cases, they can trigger life-threatening reactions called ‘anaphylaxis.’

You could get preventive shots or take epinephrine when you’re severely allergic.

Mold allergy

It grows in damp and moist places like bathrooms, basements, attics, etc.

Breathing in such areas can cause allergies in some people.

Food allergies

Foods like milk, peanuts, shellfish, eggs, etc. can cause allergies in some people within minutes of eating them.

Characteristic symptoms include difficulty in breathing, hives, swelling around the mouth and other symptoms like diarrhea, bloating and vomiting.

Latex allergy

It is caused when latex in items like medical devices, disposable gloves, condoms, etc. triggers a reaction leading to itchy red skin, breathing difficulties, etc.

Common symptoms of latex allergy include rashes, hives, itchy eyes, runny nose, wheezing, sneezing, etc.

Drug allergy

Medicines like penicillin, aspirin, etc. can trigger allergies in some people.

Common symptoms include hives, eye irritation, swelling of face, mouth, throat, etc.

It is important to tell your doctor what drugs you’re allergic to every time you get any prescription so that your treatment excludes them.

Do allergies run in the family?

There is a strong genetic basis established for allergic diseases.

Several Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been employed for allergic diseases, and significant associations have been reported. About 100 genes have been published for asthma and other allergies.

The prevalence of allergic traits with respect to family history was studied and the results demonstrated an incremental increase in the risks of developing allergic diseases like asthma, allergic rhinitis, allergic dermatitis when one or both parents have these allergies and about >3 times risk when they have more than one first-degree relative who is affected.

What is the difference between allergy and intolerance?

As many as 80% of what’s presumed to be food allergies are intolerances rather than an allergic response.

Since both allergies and intolerances have similar symptoms, there can be confusion between the two.

A real food allergy occurs when your immune system reacts in such a way that it affects multiple organs in your body.

While allergies can be life-threatening or severe, intolerances are usually less severe and are often limited only to digestive issues.

You can eat small amounts of the offending food when you have an intolerance.

For instance, If you’re lactose intolerant, You also have options like switching to lactose-free milk or take lactase enzyme pills for digestion.

If you react to consuming a particular food, you should consult your doctor to find out if you have a food allergy or food intolerance because, if it was a food allergy, it could be life-threatening even if your past reactions have been only mild.

But if it is just an intolerance, you might be recommended steps to follow that aids digestion or treat your underlying condition which might have caused it.

How do you know if you have a food intolerance?

You have food intolerance when you find it difficult to digest certain foods or if you react unpleasantly upon consuming them.

Food intolerances can include symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, skin rashes, itching, etc.

There aren’t any specific tests to diagnose food intolerance.

The only way to find that out is by monitoring your symptoms after consuming foods you think you’re intolerant to.

What are the most common food intolerances?

Here are some of the most common types of food intolerances

Lactose intolerance 

It is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme ‘Lactase’ which is essential for the digestion of Lactose sugar found in Milk and dairy products.

Symptoms: stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, gas, and nausea.

Gluten intolerance

It occurs when you are sensitive towards proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale.

Symptoms: abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, headache, joint pain, skin rashes, anxiety, depression, and Anemia.

Caffeine intolerance

It occurs when one is sensitive to caffeine (a bitter chemical found in beverages like coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, etc.)

While most adults can have up to four cups of coffee without having any side-effects, some people are more sensitive to caffeine and can experience adverse reactions.

Symptoms: nervousness, insomnia, anxiety, jitters, rapid heartbeat, restlessness, etc.

Salicylates 

It is a natural substance secreted by plants as a means of defense against environmental stressors like insects, diseases, etc., which are found in a wide range of foods like fruits, vegetables, teas, coffee, spices, honey, and nuts.

Some people are extremely sensitive towards them and suffer from adverse reactions even when consumed in small amounts.

Symptoms: sinus infections, nasal & sinus polyps, stuffy nose, asthma, diarrhea, colitis, hives, etc.

Amines

It is secreted by bacteria during fermentation and food storage.

They are found in a large variety of foods. (Such as fermented foods, cured meats, aged cheeses, avocados, citrus fruits, smoked fish, and fermented alcoholic beverages like wine & beer).

Although there are many types of amines, the histamines are most frequently linked to intolerances.

Symptoms: skin flushing, headaches, hives, itching, diarrhea, stomach pain, anxiety, low BP.

Fermented oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAPs)

It is a group of short-chain carbohydrates naturally present in a variety of foods (like apples, soft cheeses, honey, beer, beans, bread, artichokes, milk, lentils, etc.) that can cause digestive distress in some individuals.

This happens when the intestinal bacteria ferment these foods producing gas and causing bloating & discomfort.  

Symptoms: stomach ache, bloating, diarrhea, gas, and constipation.

Fructose intolerance

Occurs when people with this condition consume sugar present in fruits and vegetables, honey, sweeteners, etc.,

This is characterized by sugar malabsorption in the intestine where the sugar gets fermented by the gut bacteria to cause digestive distress.

Symptoms: abdominal pain, reflux, diarrhea, gas, bloating, vomiting, and nausea.

Sulfites

It is the chemical commonly used as food preservatives and can be intolerable to some individuals.

This sensitivity is quite prevalent in people with Asthma.

Symptoms: hives, stuffy nose, hypotension, flushing, coughing, wheezing,  diarrhea, skin swelling, etc.

Some other foods that cause intolerance include eggs, peanuts, shellfish, corn, soy, aspartame (an artificial sweetener), MSG (Monosodium glutamate- a flavor enhancer), food colorings, sugar alcohols, yeast, etc.

Do lactose and gluten intolerance go together?

It is reported that one out of every 100 individuals in North America suffers from celiac disease and about 10-20 % of them also have differing degrees of lactose intolerance.

A study suggests that 24% of patients with lactose intolerance also had celiac disease and it has been recommended that all those who are lactose intolerant should be tested for celiac disease and be placed on a double diet whammy which is free of both gluten and dairy products.

The study has also pointed out that celiac disease damages the villi (the finger-like projections lining the intestinal wall acting as gatekeepers for absorbing nutrients) and also destroys the lactase enzyme contained in the villi.

Intolerance to dairy that stems from celiac damage is known as secondary lactose intolerance, and the good news is that by eliminating gluten from the diet one can heal their gut and become lactose tolerant. 

Can I drink milk if I have celiac disease?

While milk is gluten-free, celiac disease can lead to secondary lactose intolerance and thereby avoiding dairy is recommended.

Since celiac disease damages your villi, it can cause lactase deficiency and might make it difficult for you to digest Dairy products.

How does one avoid celiac disease?

There is no way to treat celiac disease, you need to avoid Gluten-containing foods altogether to prevent the symptoms.

Going Gluten-free lets your gut to heal and prevent future inflammation.

Celiac disease is a severe condition damaging and causing inflammation to the small intestines of more than 2.5 million people in the U.S.

Here is a list of what you need to cut down:

Food products such as wheat & wheat flour, rye, barley, malt, semolina, farina, graham flour, and durum

Unexpected foods that contain gluten: canned soups, salad dressings, candy bars, mustard, ketchup, yogurt, pasta, pastries, processed & canned meat, ice cream, instant coffee, etc.

OTC & prescription drugs, vitamins & supplements since they might also contain Gluten as wheat starch might be used as a binding agent in such tablets and capsules.

Nutritional supplements, toothpaste, mouthwash, cosmetic products which might also contain gluten.

A guide to histamine intolerance

Histamines are chemical substances that are released by the cells of one's body in response to an injury, allergy or inflammatory reaction which causes smooth muscles to contract and the capillaries to dilate.

An imbalance of these chemicals and the capacity for its degradation causes Histamine Intolerance.

Histamine intolerance is not sensitivity to histamine but an indication that an individual has developed an excess of it.

Individuals with histamine intolerance might experience symptoms such as diarrhea, headache, rhinoconjunctival symptoms, asthma, hypotension, urticaria, pruritis, flushing, arrhythmia, etc. when they consume histamine-rich foods like alcohol or drugs that release histamines.

What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance?

Common symptoms of histamine intolerance include:

  1. Headaches or migraines
  2. Nasal congestion or sinus issues
  3. Hives
  4. Fatigue
  5. Digestive problems
  6. Irregular menstrual cycle
  7. Nausea
  8. Vomiting
  9. Abdominal cramps
  10. Dizziness
  11. Anxiety
  12. Irregular heart rate
  13. Tissue swelling
  14. Difficulty regulating body temperature

Anti-histamine foods

Anti-Histamine foods are those that contain vitamin C, quercetin and omega 3 to reduce allergy symptoms.

Here’s a list of such foods:

Which food is high in histamine?

Foods high in histamines tend to be frozen, aged, highly processed, cured, smoked or fermented.

Some High-histamine foods to avoid, if you are Histamine Intolerant include:

  1. Canned, dried, and salted seafood like sardines, tuna, mackerel & anchovies.
  2. Fermented beverages like wine, beer, and champagne
  3. Aged cheese like parmesan.
  4. Fermented foods like sauerkraut
  5. Leftovers, food that requires reheating.
  6. Aged meats like Salami

Low histamine diet

The food that contains low histamine are:

  1. Fresh vegetables except for tomatoes and eggplants
  2. Fresh fruits except for citrus fruits, strawberries, and cherries
  3. Skinned raw chicken
  4. Cooked egg yolk
  5. Fresh or flash-frozen meat and fish
  6. Cream cheese, butter, new pasteurized milk, and milk products
  7. Whole-grain noodles, bread, crackers, pasta
  8. Coconut and rice milk
  9. Non-citrus based smoothies and juices,
  10. Herbal teas except for black, green & mate tea
  11. Leafy greens except for spinach

Here is a low histamine diet plan:

Breakfast: Make smoothies such as mango green smoothie, sweet & savory potato toast, blueberry peach overnight oats, quick granolas, tropical mango overnight oats, quick oat muesli, sweet & savory toast

Morning snack: blueberries, pistachios, brazil nuts, raisins, cottage cheese, cherries, unsweetened shredded coconut, cantaloupe, grapes, Unsweetened applesauce with chia seeds & pistachios

Lunch: turkey meatballs with cherry sauce, steamed broccoli, chicken salad sandwich, celery sticks, grapes, quinoa herb salad, baby carrots, cucumber slices, Fresh salad, asparagus herb cottage cheese tartine.

Afternoon snack: celery sticks, cottage cheese, raisins, chia seeds, apple sprinkled with cinnamon, brazil nuts, baby carrots with no-bean hummus, grapes, cantaloupe, pistachios

Dinner: chicken marinated in apple cider vinegar, asparagus spears, red potato, salads, turkey herb meatballs with cherry sauce, steamed broccoli, salmon tacos, chicken breast topped with mozzarella & basil, zucchini pasta with creamy herb sauce, gyro turkey lettuce wrap, turkey spinach burger

MTHFR and allergies

Individuals with MTHFR gene mutations are likely to have histamine intolerances since the mutation hinders an individual's ability to methylate properly and excess toxins and histamines accumulate in the body.

What are the symptoms associated with MTHFR gene mutations?

Depending on the type of the variant, the symptoms of MTHFR mutations vary from a person to another.

Here is a list of symptoms and medical conditions associated with MTHFR mutation:

  1. Cardiovascular & thromboembolic diseases
  2. Depression
  3. Anxiety
  4. Bipolar disorder
  5. Schizophrenia
  6. Colon Cancer
  7. Acute leukemia
  8. Chronic pain
  9. Fatigue
  10. Nerve pain
  11. Migraines
  12. Recurrent miscarriages
  13. Pregnancies with neural tube defects

What are MTHFR mutations?

Methylene-tetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a gene which all of us carry two copies of.

The gene decides how we create an enzyme that is responsible for breaking down the amino acid Homocysteine. The two common variants of the gene are C677T and A1298C.

Individuals with common MTHFR variants have normal or high levels of homocysteine in their blood or urine.

The elevated homocysteine levels are reported to be the risk factors for a variety of health conditions.

Since each of us has two copies of the gene, we can inherit one copy of one variant or both the copies (one from each parent).

People who inherit two copies of the C677T variant are at an elevated risk of having a child with neural tube defects.

What are the recommended supplements for MTHFR mutation?

The severe risks of MTHFR mutations can be managed or prevented via the use of active B vitamins, such as Methylcobalamin, Methylfolate, 5-MTHF, Methyltetrahydrofolates.

Include Vitamin B12 in your diets by adding foods such as eggs, nuts, beans, and yeast.

What are the best vitamins for MTHFR?

The best vitamins that help manage MTHFR mutations better are:

Mast cell disorder and allergy

Mast cell activation disorder causes a part of the innate immune system to overreact and release histamines and other chemicals affecting other organs of the body.

Numerous factors contribute to this, such as the over-production of histamines, Diamine oxidase enzyme deficiency, HMNT mutation, poor methylation in the liver, etc.

MCAD clinically presents itself as a chronic, multisystem pathology of a general allergy and inflammation, associated with obesity, diabetes, skin conditions, IBS, etc.

What is allergic conjunctivitis?

It is commonly called as pink eye.

When an allergy causes inflammation of the membrane covering the white portion of the eye (conjunctiva), allergic conjunctivitis occurs.

There are a variety of allergies, but the common cause is hay fever.

Symptoms: redness, swelling of the conjunctiva, irritation, itching and increased production of tears.

When this occurs alongside rhinitis, it is called allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.

What are the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis?

The symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  1. Itching or burning sensation in one or both the eyes
  2. Excessive tearing
  3. gritty feeling in the eyes
  4. Swollen eyelids
  5. Discharge from either or both the eyes
  6. Pink discoloration to the whites of either or both the eyes.
  7. Higher sensitivity to light

How to cure allergic conjunctivitis?

The appropriate treatment for allergic conjunctivitis involves removing or avoiding the irritant and using cold compresses and artificial tears to relieve discomfort in mild cases.

In case of severity in the condition, NSAIDs and antihistamines might be prescribed. Individuals who suffer from persistent allergic conjunctivitis might also be prescribed topical steroid eye drops.

What is the difference between allergic conjunctivitis and other allergies?

Both conjunctivitis and allergies might give you the same set of symptoms- red eyes and excessive tearing, and thus it is easy to get confused between the two.

But allergies can make your eyes itch and feel sore.

Also, the cause of the two is what tells them apart.

While pink eye is an infection caused by a virus or bacteria, allergies are triggered by various irritants such as pollen or pet dander.

How long does it take to recover from allergic conjunctivitis?

Allergic conjunctivitis can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks, depending on what caused it.

When caused by a common viral infection without any other complications, it might get cleared up in just a few days or within a couple of weeks.

But if bacteria cause it, even with prescription antibiotic eye drops, it can last up to a month or even slightly longer than that.

Other allergies

What are the causes, symptoms, types, and treatment for skin allergy?

There are several types of skin allergies such as Eczema, Hives, contact dermatitis.

You could get skin rashes due to many reasons including exposure to certain individual plants and allergic reactions to food or medicine, or due to illnesses like measles, chicken pox, etc.

Eczema or atopic dermatitis

It is characterized by dry, irritated and itchy skin.

It affects around 10-20% of children and 1-3% of adults.

In some cases, they might have small, fluid-filled bumps that ooze out a clear or yellowish fluid.

This condition is often reported in people with a family history of allergies.

Treatment includes prescription medications like topical steroids and antihistamines, and milder cases can be treated with just moisturizers and petroleum jelly.

The first FDA approved topical medicine “Crisaborole” is very effective at decreasing inflammation and is well tolerated with long-term use.

Hives or urticaria

It is characterized by red bumps or welts appearing on the skin.

Acute urticaria lasts for around six weeks, and chronic urticaria can persist for more than six weeks.

While the former is commonly caused by being exposed to an allergen or an infection, the cause of the latter is unknown.

Treatment involves antihistamines- either low- sedating or nonsedating types.

Sometimes urticaria might need temporary treatment with prednisone- a corticosteroid medicine, or an immune modulator to reduce the severity.

Epinephrine shots might also help, in the case of anaphylaxis.

Contact dermatitis

It occurs when your skin is exposed to an allergen or an irritant.

Typical symptoms include rashes, blisters, burning, and itching of the skin.

Soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, fabric softeners, water, metals, adhesives, nail enamels, medications, latex gloves, and certain plants can cause contact dermatitis.

Treating the irritated skin should be prioritized, followed by finding the allergen to avoid future incidents.

Topical creams and oral medications are prescribed to relieve the itching and to heal the damaged skin.

Antihistamines and ointments have also proven to be helpful. 

What are the causes, symptoms, and management for dust allergy?

The process of cleaning such as vacuuming, sweeping and dusting can trigger allergic symptoms in some people when they inhale dust that stirs up.

Dust mites are tiny organisms that feed off the house dust and the moisture in the air and are one of the most common allergens.

Symptoms can be present throughout the year.

Apart from allergic rhinitis, it can also trigger asthma and eczema.

Symptoms: sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, itching, etc.

Treatment options include allergy shots, medications, and changes to household routines such as removing curtains and drapes, especially in the bedroom, keeping pets away and minimizing humidity in the house, using mite-proof beddings and washing bed linens using hot water.

What are the causes, symptoms, and management of pollen allergy?

Pollen allergies are caused by exposure to trees, grass and weed pollen.

Pollen is a fine yellowish powder transported via wind, birds, insects, etc. from one plant to another and can cause this seasonal allergy.

Symptoms include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, itchy throat, wheezing and nasal congestion.

You could also get asthma symptoms and excessive coughing.

Treatment options include allergy shots and oral medication that should be taken as a preventive measure. 

Xcode Life’s Gene Allergy Report provides you with 12+ categories with personalized and actionable recommendations to prevent allergic reactions.

What is misophonia?

The literal meaning of the word ‘misophonia’ is hatred to sound.

If the sound of a dripping tap, the clicking of a pen or chewing makes an individual irritated or induces panic, then he/she is said to be suffering from a condition called misophonia.

However, this condition is different from hyperacusis where a sound is perceived or heard much louder and more painfully than it actually is.

Other sounds that can trigger or tick-off a misophonic person is the tapping of a pencil, tapping of feet, sneezing, loud breathing, etc.

Can't stand the sound of chewing?

If you answered yes to the above question, you most likely suffer from a condition known as misophonia.

Individuals with this brain abnormality hate sound like that of chewing, loud breathing, tapping, etc.

What is the fear of loud noises called?

Some individuals are aversive to or scared of loud noises, including their own voice.

This condition is known as phonophobia or sonophobia.

This is a rare condition and often occurs as a result of hyperacusis.

Is misophonia a form of OCD?

Similar to OCD, misophonia presents itself differently in each individual, however, misophonia is not a type of OCD.

There might be an overlap between the two conditions, but there isn’t enough evidence to show that misophonia is a type of OCD.

Is misophonia a mental illness?

Misophonia is not classified under auditory or psychiatric (mental illness) conditions.

For this reason, it is not the same as phonophobia, which is the fear of sound.

There is very little research done on the incidence, how common it is or what treatments can be given for this condition.

How does misophonia affect the brain?

In individuals who suffer from misophonia, the sound of pens clicking, chewing, slurping, etc act as trigger sounds and elicit an immediate response from them.

Researchers at Newcastle University reported changes in the frontal lobe of the brain in people who suffered from misophonia.

The brain imaging revealed that people with this condition have some abnormality in the emotional control mechanism of the brain that causes them to go into overdrive when they hear trigger sounds.

The researchers also found an alternate connectivity pattern to the frontal lobe which is the origin of this brain activity.

The trigger sounds increased the heart rate and also caused sweating in those suffering from the condition.

Is misophonia treatable?

Till date, there is no proven way to treat misophonia.

However, there are several therapies being used to reduce the symptoms and increase the tolerance of individuals to trigger noises.

How can misophonia be treated?

Though there is no proper treatment for misophonia, there are a few therapies that have been used to successfully treat patients suffering from it.

One such therapy is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), that involves training people on how to improve their tolerance to certain trigger noises.

Another type of therapy is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), that trains people to control negative thoughts which may be acting as a contributing factor to their suffering.

Some people prefer the use of fans and other ‘white noise’ devices behind their ears to generate a constant background sound so that they can avoid hearing any trigger noises.

Deconditioning people and reinforcing them with positive thoughts is also a suggested method of therapy.

Medication has also been suggested as a method to treat misophonia. These include medicines that treat anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.

Is misophonia a disability? 

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), a person with a disability is one who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

When you think of misophonia and the workplace together, it can be considered to be a disability.

This is where people spend most of their day.

The workplace has multiple trigger sounds like the clicking of keyboards and mouses, constant chatter, pens clicking, the sound of marker pens on the board, etc.

Therefore misophonia can be categorized under mental disabilities.

What triggers misophonia? 

Individuals suffering from misophonia have certain specific trigger sounds that they are sensitive to.

Each person has their own personal trigger sounds and these form a central fact of their life.

Hearing a trigger sound causes these affected individuals to generate an involuntary response that could be irritation, anger, rage, hatred, or disgust.

The common trigger sounds include:

In some cases, the sound triggers are preceded by visual or tactile triggers like the jaw movement before chewing or touching a keyboard before typing, etc.

Does misophonia get worse?

While one of the methods to help subdue misophonia may seem to be hearing sounds above the trigger sounds, this might not be a good idea after all.

Trigger sounds are already irritating, obnoxious and troublesome to those with misophonia.

Listening to sounds in itself is a difficult task for such people. So, blocking sounds using earphones and music in the ears is only going to make misophonia worse.

This has been proved using the fact that we have a ‘central auditory gain’.

This means that the hearing centers in our brain increase the loudness of sound within it to make up for the perceived hearing loss.

So, if the brain is unable to hear the sound well, it will try to intensify the sound within it.

This happens at several levels and can increase one’s sensitivity to trigger sounds. In these cases, misophonia gets worse.

What causes noise sensitivity? 

Sensitivity to noise is termed as hyperacusis in medicine.

It occurs due to a problem in the way the brain’s central auditory processing centers understands or perceives the sounds.

An individual with hyperacusis finds it difficult to tolerate even everyday noises as they tend to become too loud and painful for them.

The same thing occurs in misophonia, which is a type of selective noise sensitivity.

What percent of the population has misophonia? 

Misophonia is quite a common disease. However, it has not been documented too well because it is often misdiagnosed.

It is said to affect about 15-20% of adults, and is more common and severe in women as compared to men.

Is misophonia genetic? 

Misophonia is more common in women.

About 15-20% of adults suffer from the condition and the condition is more common in individuals with European ancestry.

These few facts are strong indicators of the fact that misophonia has a genetic component.

A variant near the gene TENM2, which plays a role in brain development is suspected to be the culprit.

Is misophonia a form of synesthesia?

Synesthesia is a phenomenon of perception in which stimulating one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic and involuntary experiences in another sensory or cognitive pathway.

Synesthesia is of two types:

Misophonia has been strongly linked with synesthesia in terms of connectivity between different brain regions and specific symptoms.

It is hypothesized that a pathological distortion of connections between the auditory cortex and limbic structures could cause a type of sound synesthesia.

What is emotional synesthesia? 

In some cases, the link between touch and emotions can take an extreme turn. Touching a material can induce extreme disgust, the need to vomit, contentment, etc.

That’s life for people with tactile-emotional synesthesia, a mysterious condition in which seemingly arbitrary textures can be enough to make someone laugh or cry.

Emotional synesthesia is among the rarest forms of synesthesia or at least one of the most sparsely studied.

It’s possible that the insular cortex, which regulates emotion, may never have been fully pruned from the somatosensory cortex, which processes touch, hence bringing about this condition.

What is the opposite of misophonia? 

Misophonia is a neurological condition where certain ‘trigger’ noises can elicit or cause negative, involuntary reactions from an affected individual such as irritation, disgust, rage, or anger.

On the other hand, there is a condition known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response or ASMR, where sound can create a euphoric, happy or a relaxed feeling.

ASMR is said to be the exact opposite of what misophonia is. However, there is not much scientific research on both conditions.

How does Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) work?

TRT is one of the many ways to manage a case of misophonia.

The therapy works on two aspects:

Sound therapy

It uses external sounds to mask the internal sounds that an individual is hearing.

This helps divert the mind and the individual feels better.

In this part of the therapy, the individual’s mind is trained to ignore or avoid any unwanted sounds.

There are multiple ways and levels at which sound therapy can be offered.

Cognitive behavioral therapy

This part of the therapy helps manage the emotional aspect of misophonia.

This forms an equally important part of the treatment because the tinnitus or trigger noises elicit emotional responses like anger, anxiety, and depression.

It can be delivered as a one-on-one basis, in groups, at a clinic or on the phone.

The cognitive behavioral therapy involves educating the patient about the condition, his or her personal trigger points, how to develop healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate symptoms, etc.

Is misophonia a sensory disorder? 

There is currently no conclusive research that has been performed that categorizes misophonia as a sensory disorder.

While sensory disorders cause an individual to have sensitivity in more than one sense, misophonia falls only under the auditory domain.

Is sensitivity to loud noises a sign of autism? 

Individuals with autism have many varying symptoms, due to which autism is actually known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

One of the main characteristics of an individual with autism is that they are sensitive to sound, touch, light or communication.

But, any sensitivity to noises cannot be called as a sign of autism as it can be seen with other conditions and disorders like phonophobia, misophonia, etc.

Can misophonia cause panic attacks?

Yes, in many cases, misophonics suffer from panic attacks when they hear trigger sounds and are unable to control their emotional outbreak.

How do you deal with misophonia?

There are many methods people use to ignore noises. Some of them are:

Is misophonia a symptom of anxiety?

Misophonia is selective sound sensitivity, where the individual gets agitated, or angry when an individual hears certain sounds.

Sound sensitivity, on the other hand, is common to many conditions like OCD, bipolar disorders, multiple sclerosis, autism, etc.

There is a clear overlap of symptoms that makes diagnosis confusing in the case of misophonia.

However, misophonia can be, in some cases, an overlapping symptom of anxiety.

What is ASMR therapy? 

ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response is actually an experience that is described as a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin, beginning at the scalp and moving down the back of the neck and upper part of the spine.

It creates a calming or relaxing sensation that spreads throughout the body.

Some people also describe this as a low-grade euphoria that is a combination of positive feelings and tingling sensation on the skin.

It is triggered commonly by specific visual or auditory stimuli.

What triggers ASMR?

ASMR is pleasant, calming yet tingling feeling one experiences when he/she hears unique voices or sounds like tapping, scratching, whispering, etc.

This tingling feeling begins at the back of the head and travels down through the spine and spreads across the entire body, relaxing you and making you feel happy and optimistic.

ASMR has many trigger factors that are responsible for eliciting a response from the brain in an affected individual, which can be auditory or visual. Some of these trigger factors include:

  1. Whispering
  2. Scratching
  3. Tapping
  4. Gentle touch
  5. Blowing
  6. Turning of a page
  7. Concentration
  8. Role-playing
  9. Playing with hair
  10. Sticky fingers

Reference

  1. https://www.hear-it.org/Misophonia
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia
  3. https://blog.23andme.com/23andme-research/something-to-chew-on/

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