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Allergies and scleroderma


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#1 warmheart

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 12:58 PM

Hi everyone,

Just curious...does anyone have severe allergies and also scleroderma? If so, is there any evidence that anyone's aware of that they may be related?

The reason I'm asking is that (although I'd had Raynaud's and joint pains for a few years beforehand), the worst of my problems came on very suddenly in the mid-'90s, on the day I began allergy immunotherapy. It was like having a very bad flu; I was too dizzy to stay out of bed, and my hands were totally stiff and weak, and it felt like I was wearing a big pair of boxing gloves which made my hands pretty useless. As it was explained to me then, allergy injections work by turning IgE to IgG and theoretically should worsen autoimmune disease, but don't, for reasons no one understands.

The allergy clinic sent me to an excellent immunologist to sort out what was allergy and what was autoimmunity, but unfortunately he had to leave his practice abruptly, so that was that. Because my allergies had become life-threatening they didn't want to stop the injections, but after 4 1/2 (fairly miserable) years my esophagus became paralyzed with a scleroderma-type motility disorder. That was the end of the injections! The allergy clinic nurses had been trying for years to persuade me to see a rheumatologist, and in the end the general thinking was that perhaps I was the exception to the rule that the injections don't worsen autoimmunity.

Have any of you had a similar experience, or have anything to add? I should say here that I have never been to a rheumatologist (finally working on that now) and so I do not have a definitive diagnosis of scleroderma or anything else.

Thanks a bunch!

warmheart

#2 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 01:37 PM

Hi Warmheart,

I'm sorry you are having such difficult health issues (there ought to be a rule: one to a customer, no repeat customers!). Although it is my understanding that many people who have autoimmune diseases also have allergies, there hasn't been any conclusive evidence that allergies can cause scleroderma. We do have a good page on Causes that makes interesting reading. There is a lot of speculation that the cause is a combination of genetics and an environmental trigger, not just one single thing.

Best wishes,
Jeannie McClelland
(Retired) ISN Director of Support Services
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International Scleroderma Network

#3 nan

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 01:43 PM

Warmheart,
I have allergies and I get allergy shots. I have had bad allergies since birth. So for me allergies came first. Good luck and I think it would be great if you could see a rheumatologist.
Take care,
Nan

#4 warmheart

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 02:40 PM

Thanks, Jeannie and Nan! And thanks for your sympathy, Jeannie, but really for me severe allergies have always just been "normal"--I've never not had them. And I was just thinking the other day how "normal" it feels to me after 10 years not to be able to swallow like everyone else, and how weird that is when I really think about it (which of course I rarely do!). Though I've got to admit that I was kind of put out the other day when I went outside and realized that my beautiful gold nail polish made my purple fingers look pretty strange. <_<

What's gotten me thinking about allergy injections and scleroderma is this case study I came across, about a girl with a family history of scleroderma who got localized scleroderma after getting allergy shots. Here's a link to the journal article listed on sclero.org: Asthma and Autoimmunity (see the PDF article).

In my case, whatever I have, it's a very clear cause-and-effect relationship that allergy injections brought out a scleroderma-type illness, whatever it actually is. So I'm wondering whether that's something researchers might be interested in looking into; I remember the immunologist was very interested in my antibodies and they were supposed to be sent to a university lab out-of-state for testing. Who knows, maybe my weird antibodies might end up helping other people. Any thoughts?

Hugs,

warmheart

#5 Jeannie McClelland

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 04:30 PM

Who knows, your antibodies might well be THE clue. :) I've agreed to participate in every study my doctors have suggest and given lots of blood, because one never knows just what/who will provide the Eureka! moment.

I also agree about becoming comfortable with our new norms. Given half a chance, we adapt. And don't forget, purple and gold are 'royal' colors!

Warm hugs,
Jeannie McClelland
(Retired) ISN Director of Support Services
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International Scleroderma Network

#6 warmheart

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 02:39 PM

<<And don't forget, purple and gold are 'royal' colors!

Love it, Jeannie! :emoticons-yes: Let's hear it for purple power!

w.