I just want my eyelids to stop swelling
January 5, 2011 5:22 PM   Subscribe

What am I allergic to?

Over the last year, I've noticed that I have some kind of food intolerance which results in irritability and a swollen eyelid. The symptoms haven't been serious enough to consult a doctor over, but I'm curious if there's some general substance that I'm reacting to so I can avoid it.

I've noticed this happening when I eat dates, drink cream soda (diet), or drink a lot (3 cans or more in a day) of cola (diet or regular, but I think it takes less of the regular). It also happens when I avoid these things, though.

Possibly related: In this same time frame I've noticed that I get migraines from avocado, raw or in guacamole, and have cut it out of my diet entirely.

Am I reacting to some specific chemical? Plant type? Is this all in my head?
posted by girih knot to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The best way to tell is to keep an accurate log of food and symptoms. It's a pain, but will give you a very good idea what you are looking at.
posted by annsunny at 5:25 PM on January 5, 2011

This is worth going to doctor for. They will do a scratch test with everything that it could be. I have done three of them, they suck. But on the positive side I now know what I should avoid. So will you.
posted by Felex at 5:31 PM on January 5, 2011

Yes, definitely worth going to the doctor for. If you are pretty sure it's a food related allergy, though, you might also try cutting back to only a very few foods that don't cause irritation, and slowly reintroduce other foods. Kind of a pain, but sometimes the scratch tests don't catch food intolerance that isn't actually allergy.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 5:40 PM on January 5, 2011

If your eyelids are swelling you really need to see a doctor. Next time it might be your throat that swells. Allergic reactions can worsen.

This happened to me and it took me forever to figure out that it was aspirin, for which there is no allergy test. My understanding is that when adults suddenly develop allergic reactions, it's most often to medications. But see a doctor for sure.
posted by Lobster Garden at 5:50 PM on January 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

As a kid, I had a food allergy (chocolate, strawberries) that caused my eyes/eyelids to swell up, but only if I ate those foods right before I went to bed at night. I second a food log, but make sure you keep the times of when you eat each thing.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 5:50 PM on January 5, 2011

It's hard to say for anybody but an allergist.
posted by anniecat at 6:16 PM on January 5, 2011

to say what it might be
posted by anniecat at 6:16 PM on January 5, 2011

In addition to the allergy test, I also suggest a food intolerance test with a naturopath. The test is a Vega test, and it will identify a second group of foods / substances to avoid. Eating these foods induces slower intolerance effects which build over time - it's not as immediate an effect as a food allergy. Worth investigating as well.
posted by seawallrunner at 11:47 PM on January 5, 2011

Best answer: All these replies about going to a doctor are great, but having done this (myself) many times, they are just going to tell you what other posters here already have: keep a journal. After the scratch test and panel, they're going to put you on a food elimination diet. So much of this detective work is within your control already. The problem with the scratch tests and panels is they test "what happens when we put this in your blood," or "what happens when we put this under your skin," not "what happens when i eat a runny egg versus a cooked egg in the morning." Keep a detailed journal, start a really boring food elimination diet, and see what you find.
posted by SeƱor Pantalones at 2:09 AM on January 6, 2011

In addition to a scratch test an allergist may decide to give you a RAST test - it requires they draw blood but it tests more substances.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:12 AM on January 6, 2011

Food journal, as above.

The avocado piques my interest. There are, apparently, two ways to be allergic to avocado -

the latex fruit allergy, which results in anaphylaxis in its most serious form, and Oral Allergy Syndrome, where you just get itchy. The headache/migraine thing with the avocado doesn't jive - do you mean literally a migraine, or just a really bad headache? It's a distinction that will matter. Does anything else go along with the avocado? Itchiness?
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:27 AM on January 6, 2011

An allergist put my wife on something called the, "food elimination diet." If I remember correctly...

She called it the chicken and olives diet - as those were basically the foods she was allowed to eat at first.

In a nutshell, you limit your diet to a very short list of foods. Keep a log of some sort. And gradually reintroduce different foods into your diet and record the results. It's long and difficult, according to her anyway.
posted by thatguyjeff at 6:57 AM on January 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers!

The headache/migraine thing with the avocado doesn't jive - do you mean literally a migraine, or just a really bad headache? It's a distinction that will matter. Does anything else go along with the avocado? Itchiness?

I'm pretty sure they're migraines. They were unlike any headache I'd ever had before, I became very sensitive to light, and even moving around at all was awful. This happened maybe three times, each about a day after eating avocado. (I was able to figure out that it was avocado only because I rarely ever eat avocado.) I stopped eating avocado and I haven't had one since. There were no other symptoms that I noticed.

It looks like keeping a food/health journal is the best way to go here. I'm starting today. Thanks again, everyone!
posted by girih knot at 5:33 PM on January 6, 2011

You don't mention here if you are male/female or if you wear makeup. Are you sure it's a food allergy. My eyelids swell when I use certain cosmetics.
posted by citywolf at 10:48 AM on January 7, 2011

Response by poster: citywolf: I'm female and I do wear cosmetics, but I use them more often than any swelling occurs, and I always use the same kind.
posted by girih knot at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2011

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