How I Broke- And Am Breaking- Lifelong Allergy Medication Dependence.
Millenials are the generation of many things, but one of them is the generation of allergies. The generations before us had virtually none of the types of serious reactions to products such as food that have become sadly common among my contemporaries. As the New England Journal of Medicine notes, serious allergies to peanuts alone have quadrupled since 1997 (when the instance of it was 0.4 percent).
At my school growing up, I recalled multiple friends and acquaintances who not only had to shun peanuts themselves, but also, out of an abundance of caution, shun certain cookies that were readily available in the school cafeteria, such as Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies. The ready availability of such things to children in school settings presents its own set of problems, but it took me a while to understand why my friends couldn’t have things that I could freely indulge in without consequence (or so I thought at the time).
I would come to realize that these cookies may have contained traces of peanuts through being manufactured in facilities that also manufactured peanut-based products, and my friends’ sensitivity to this food was so severe that if they even were exposed to these trace amounts, they would go into anaphylactic shock, or could even die. Hence, they carried around pens filled with epinephrine (which would rapidly bring them out of that state of shock), that they could inject on a moment’s notice.
I considered myself fortunate that I did not have to suffer these consequences, although, as I would later discover, the foods I was consuming from an early age would indeed be having a negative impact on me that I would not realize until much later, although the adverse effects would manifest themselves in my early teens. This primarily came in the effect of eczema on my skin, especially on my face, although it would take much more severe forms once I became an adult.
However, one thing that I began to take for granted as my natural state of being was my dependence on certain over the counter anti-histamine drugs. These were primarily Zyrtec, which I would take each morning orally in pill form, as well as the nasal spray Flonase at least once a day (often more). These would have the effect of alleviating some of the worst symptoms of my environmental and seasonal allergies, however, as I got older I began to notice the adverse effects that would occur on those occasions when I went multiple days without either or both of these anti-histamine drugs.
For one day, I would feel no adverse effects if I did not come into excessive contact with the many, many things I had allergic sensitivity to- dogs, cats, pollens, grasses, dust mites, etc. However, on the second and especially third day I would begin to feel an overall feverish sensation that rendered me totally miserable, until I began to use the anti-histamine drugs once again. However, this did not happen often, as I made sure to always have a ready supply of the drugs on hand in my bathroom medicine cabinet for daily use.
However, in 2020 I learned of deeper issues that had been affecting my health for my entire life. Suffering from the most extreme eczema oubtreak I ever had, I turned to a doctor with a somewhat less conventional approach to medicine than the dermatologists who had failed to address the underlying conditions affecting me. This new doctor found that I had a genetic sensitivity to gluten, dairy and soy, which was causing my eczema reactions, as well as a number of other problems in my health, including brain fog and others.
I immediately eliminated all foods containing these compounds from my diet. With the help of this as well as an injection of embryonic stem cells, my condition began to heal itself immensely- my skin has never been in better condition in my adult life, my brain fog resolved, and I lost roughly twenty pounds as the inflammation in my body receded. When I returned to the doctor’s office for a follow up appointment roughly two months after my initial stem cell treatment, the nurse who had administered the injection happened to be there- and she did not recognize me at first, such was my external physical transformation.
To my surprise and delight, my internal physical transformation would manifest itself in ways that I had not anticipated as well. I do not know what caused me to make the conscious decision to see what would happen when I went without Zyrtec and Flonase, but something moved me to do so. It may have been something as mundane as simply running out of them and not wanting to go to the pharmacy to get more. In any case, I was putting my new state of being to the test.
Two days went by, then three, then more. The irritated, feverish feeling never came. At worst, some days I would have very minor sniffles, but clearly my allergic reactions had greatly diminished in their potency. I have now not used either Zyrtec or Flonase in almost a year, and I do not miss having to rely on them one bit.
Physical health is, of course a lifelong journey (and mental and spiritual health even more so), and I continue to make my way on such journeys every day. My allergies are still there, and in specific circumstances can have minor flareups, such as spending time at a park in the spring where many dogs were around, as happened to me this past week. But this is a small price to pay for my newfound state of being and sense of freedom and health independence. It is unfortunate that I may not be qualified to be a dog owner in my life- not even a supposedly “hypoallergenic” dog. But accepting those limitations is nothing compared to the respite that I have been blessed to receive from my allergies, and that is what I try to focus on every day.