The first patient in the study was a 61-year-old female who was originally diagnosed with asthma at age 16. even though she had been managing the disease for so many years, her asthma had been getting worse for the 18 months before the study. In particular, she reported increased dyspnea (labored breathing) with any kind of physical exertion. This of course, was decreasing her quality of life. After her first visit with the doctor, the patient was asked to cut out wheat, dairy, and eggs from her diet. After three weeks of this diet, she reported that "For the first time in years, she was able to hike 1.5 miles without the use of her rescue inhaler." She even lost a few pounds. She had only one asthma attack since her last visit, and she attributed it to accidently consuming dairy. Sure enough, the doctor looked at her allergy test results and they suggested that she had IgG reactions to wheat, dairy, and eggs. At her next follow-up, the patient said she had been strictly adhering to the diet and hadn't needed to use her inhaler once since the last visit.
The second patient in the study was a 12-year-old male who had received allergy testing in the past. his known allergens included grass and pollen. For purposes of the study, a new allergy test was performed, which indicated high IgG reactivity to eggs as well as mild to severe reactivity to milk, cheese, wheat, citrus, casein, and corn. The patient was asked to eliminate these foods from his diet. As you might expect, adhering to this strict diet was difficult for the 12-year-old patient. In order to encourage him to follow his diet, his parents told him he could have one "cheat day" per week. on those days, the patient usually had pizza for dinner and reported wheezing before bedtime. After the 30-week follow up appointment, the patient admitted that he had been eating wheat daily, dairy a few times a week, as well as eggs. He was also using his inhaler much more during this time. At some points the patient noticed that he experienced asthma attacks almost immediately after eating eggs. For a time, the patient managed to keep his asthma under control while adhering to the diet, but when he ultimately "fell off" the diet again his asthma worsened, once to the point of being diagnosed with acute bronchitis.
While it might be difficult at first to get used to elimination diets such as the ones prescribed above, this study shows clear evidence that it may in fact be worth it to know your allergies and stick to the avoidance diet to keep your asthma under control. If you have asthma and are wondering if it could be exacerbated by food allergies request an appointment online or call us at 773.878.7330. We are located in Chicago but are happy to accommodate patients outside our area.