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How Food Allergies Can Lead to Other Conditions: Sinusitis, Hypertension and Acne

Published date: June 5, 2013 | Modified date:
by Dr Stephen Wangen

Food allergies can cause health conditions that seem unrelated to what you eat. And they can cause not only digestive problems, but they can also cause many other problems as well. Food allergies affect the entire body and are immune reactions that lead to inflammation.

Because nutrients are digested, absorbed and circulated throughout the body, inflammatory responses to food can be exhibited in any part of the body. This is why food allergies can cause a wide range of problems.

Food Allergies and the Link to Sinusitis

An allergy is an immune response, resulting in inflammation and in the case of sinusitis, the reaction is increased mucous production and inflammation in the sinuses, which can lead to symptoms like sinus pressure a runny nose or post nasal drip, as described in the medical journal Immunology and Allergy Clinics .

Any food that can trigger the immune system via an allergic reaction is capable of causing sinusitis or allergic rhinitis.

Many people with sinus problems complain that even after having taken multiple courses of antibiotics or following sinus surgery, they feel the same as they did before their treatment. Their sinusitis problem returns with a vengeance.

What is the problem? Aren’t they getting the right antibiotic?

The answer is that in these people, the antibiotics are only treating the bacterial infection that is secondary to the inflammation clogging their sinuses. Therefore, antibiotics don’t get at the real cause of the problem.

Food Allergies Can Lead to Other Conditions

The same can be said for surgery. Surgery may scrape out the sinuses or open up a larger space for them to drain, but these treatments only address secondary problems resulting from the inflammation. Therefore, the original sinus problem remains. The real question is, what is causing the inflammation?

Anything that triggers the immune system can be the source because the immune system is what causes inflammation and mucous production. Bacteria, which are treated with antibiotics, are only one cause of inflammation.

One of the most likely causes of chronic sinus infection or nasal congestion is a food allergy. Since, food allergies constantly trigger the immune system, the inflammation never permanently goes away. This can result in a persistent runny nose, or recurrent sinus infections due to the moist and poorly draining or inflamed environment in the sinuses.

Changing your diet might help relieve your symptoms. I thought that I’d share a few case studies from my office of patients who found relief from sinusitis and runny nose by changing their diet.

  • Case #1: 52-year-old woman with a long history of sinusitis and sinus headaches as well as arthritis, and insomnia from hot flashes. Food allergy testing with multiple antibodies discovered very high allergies to salmon, tuna, crab, lobster, and other seafood as well as beef and pork. The patient stated she ate seafood almost every day. Within one month after the removal of these foods, the patient said she felt “great.” Her sinusitis had almost completely resolved, as had her headaches, and her arthritis was already much better. Hot flashes were also greatly diminished, and she was sleeping soundly.
  • Case #2: 44-year-old woman with 15-year history of sinus problems and headaches. She had three previous sinus surgeries that had not resolved her problems. As a child, she had many ear infections. Food allergy testing with multiple antibodies showed a high reactivity to eggs, corn, sunflower, and brewer’s yeast. After the testing, the patient said when she was a child, her mom wouldn’t let her eat eggs because they caused eczema. The elimination of these foods resolved her sinusitis and headaches.
  • Case #3: 14-year-old girl, with a long history of sinus problems. Started antibiotics at age three and had sinus surgeries at ages eight and 13, both of which only helped temporarily. She also had frequent headaches and canker sores. After blood testing, she eliminated dairy, broccoli, garlic, and pineapple from her diet. This led to significant improvement in her sinusitis.
  • Case #4: 4-year-old boy had been experiencing sinusitis, congestion and ear infections for most of life. He had been on and off antibiotics and had been sick for more than a year. Skin testing for food allergies had been negative. Blood testing demonstrated strong allergies to dairy, eggs, and beef. Removal of these foods led to a dramatic improvement in in his health.

Food Allergies and High Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association estimates 103 million adults, or almost half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk for heard disease, heart attack, or stroke. An increase in blood pressure is also related to weight gain. One of the overlooked causes of high blood pressure may be food allergies.

Although not our primary focus at the IBS Treatment Center, one of the more interesting connections to the identification and removal of food allergies from a person’s diet has been a significant and relatively quick drop in blood pressure for some patients.

The blood pressure drop has not necessarily been related to a reduction in weight, although that is often another positive side effect of treating food allergies.

These clinical observations make for interesting stories, but there are some published reports on the subject of food allergies and intolerances and the incidence of hypertension. One study “Risk of vascular disease in adults with diagnosed coeliac disease: a population‐based study” found adults with celiac disease and on a gluten-free diet had a lower prevalence of hypertension compared with the general population.

Blood pressure is one of the most common and preventable killers in the country, so make sure to get regular checkups. If you have high blood pressure, then be sure to get treatment from a physician, don’t try to treat it on your own.

But if you have borderline high blood pressure, or if you’d like to reduce your medication or potentially eliminate it altogether, then you are strongly encouraged to look into the possibility that a hidden food allergy is contributing to your elevated blood pressure

Food Allergies and the Link to Acne

Acne can be embarrassing, frustrating, and downright unfair. Fortunately, most of the time, it is also avoidable. Most people assume getting acne is a normal part of life. But why do some people get acne when others do not and why do certain people have such bad cases of acne?

Commercial treatments for acne focus on keeping the skin clean and clearing clogged pores. This sounds reasonable, but again, why do some people have to obsessively clean their skin when others do not and why do some people cleanse, exfoliate, deep clean and still get acne?

The real problem with this approach to acne is that acne develops from inside the body, not outside. The skin is an organ, and it is an organ of elimination. We eliminate waste products through our skin, just as we lose minerals when we sweat.

Too many toxins inside the body can lead to inflammation in the skin resulting in clogged pores and acne. In order to treat the cause of the acne we must first remove the toxins.

Food allergies cause many acne cases as well as many other skin issues. Eating a food to which the body is allergic leads to a continuous toxic reaction. In such cases, the immune system fights the food as if it were an invading organism. This can cause inflammation in the skin as well as the need to eliminate the toxin.

There isn’t just one food that causes acne. Any food allergy is capable of causing acne. However, the most common cause of acne that I see in my practice is dairy products.

Several studies have noticed a strong link between dairy and acne. The study “Milk and Milk Products in Human Nutrition” found a link between milk and whey-protein based products and acne, and recommended reducing their intake to reduce acne.

Food Allergies Can Lead to Other Conditions

Testing For Food Allergies

It is difficult to recognize food allergies. Allergy symptoms may show up hours or even days after a food is well absorbed into your system.

This difficulty is compounded by the fact that certain foods, such as dairy and wheat, are so prevalent in our diet that most people eat them every day. Therefore, connecting your symptoms with your eating habits is often nearly impossible.

The only sure way to determine if you have a food allergy is to have your blood tested for all antibodies to a variety of foods. This is done with blood testing, which measure your immune response to at least 100 different foods. Finding out about food allergens might relieve some medical symptoms you might not link to food allergies, like sinus problems, high blood pressure, or acne.

If you’d like to learn more about these types of food allergies and their connection to your health, please schedule an appointment with us. Our expertise is in helping you discover the hidden potential within you that can dramatically improve your health.