high blood pressure from allergies
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jzh999 posted:
My allergist used skin pick tests to diagnose my multiple food and environmental allergies. I also have drug allergies. Even though I haven't heard of anyone else having the same symptoms I do, he assures me it is not that uncommon. When I get an allergy attack, it starts with my face/ears getting flushed. Then I start having pressure in my chest, followed by chills that shake my whole body. It travels right up my neck into my jaw, so my teeth chatter. The pressure causes my ears to feel plugged. I start then with diarrhea. The worst part is that while this is building, my blood pressure jumps to 200/100. I fight it by taking more blood pressure medication, tons of benadryl, drinking quarts of water, and walking all around the house. If I haven't already taken Zyrtec or Singulair that day, I throw those in too. If I sit down and try to relax, or put on warmer clothes, it will get worse. I have to walk until I get my BP down to about 150/80 or it will continue to come back. It takes me hours to get it under control and then I'm just exhausted. I feel the effects for about 2 days after. My blood pressure has gone to 200/100 several times, but never over. The drs. have told me if it goes over to go to the hospital, which I have had to do once, where they gave me a shot.

My allergist says that when my body reacts to a substance, it throws out excessive histamines, which cause my blood vessels to constrict. That causes my face/ears to redden, my chest to feel heavy, diarrhea and chills, and neck pain. The Benadryl is supposed to counter that but it takes hours. Does anyone else have this same problem and if so, what medications do you use to treat these attacks? During the last one, it took 7-8 to get it under control.

Most of the time I've been able to control it, but lately I've had 2 attacks almost back to back. I have no idea what caused them. The drs. are changing my blood pressure medication for about the 6th time. Hydrochlorothiazide is not strong enough and some of the others gave me trouble.

If anyone else has these same symptoms I would love to hear from them. I'd like to know how they handle the attacks and what medications the dr. has them on for allergies and blood pressure. I am on a gluten free diet and watch things carefully, but it's hard to avoid environmental elements. I have HEPA air cleaners & a HEPA sweeper and covers on all the bedding. The last attack I had followed a day at a family reunion on a lake. I don't want to give up going to things like that. Any info anyone can give me would be appreciated.

jzh999
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TrudyGERD responded:
When I'm having an allergy attack, my blood pressure rises as well. It's never gone as high as yours though. My natural blood pressure is low though when I'm not flaring.

Like you, I have many food and environmental allergies. I don't know if your results could possible be like mine, but here's where I'm at now. I focus on the food allergies. I am on a very strict elimination diet to ensure that I am not exposed to a single one of my food allergies. I'm also careful about fruits and vegetables that are commonly reactive for people with some of my environmental allergies (like apples for people with birch allergies - no idea why but it's common). My allergist couldn't believe it, but by doing this, my season allergy symptoms have gone away. He was shocked since my tests showed some of the environmental allergies to be off the chart. I take no allergy medicine, though I have Benedryl just in case I have a bad day with seasonal allergies (I take it only a couple times per year, though this year was particularly bad).

Are you on a strict elimination diet for your food allergies?
 
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Aqua14 responded:
I developed high blood pressure around the time that my allergies worsened. (I don't have food allergies, just inhalant allergies.) I've been on Cozaar for my BP, which works well for me without side effects. I've also found that by taking my daily allergy meds (Zyrtec, Singulair, Nasonex, Zaditor) I can prevent attacks -- you might want to try taking your allergy meds daily, if you don't already. Also, for your environmental allergies, allergy shots might be a good idea for you. But since I don't have food allergies, I think Trudy's thoughts are more on point, since it seems as though your reactions are food allergy related.

Hope these thoughts help a bit. Take care and good luck. Judy
 
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jzh999 responded:
Hi Trudy, Thanks for responding to my letter. It's nice to compare notes with someone else who has this high blood pressure/allergy problem. I'm allergic to wheat, chocolate, cod fish, and the family of shell fish (shrimp, clams, crabs, etc.) I try very hard to keep those out of my diet, but wheat is a real problem because it's in so many dishes. I'm also allergic to dust, dust mites, mold, weeds, and cockroach. Certain smells will also set me off. I think this past week my first attack was set off by a product I always use on my hair, but they changed the packaging. I think they must have changed the formula also. The second attack came after a day at a family reunion on a lake. I think there could have been multiple triggers there. First, outside environmental things from the lake (weeds);second, I ate some barbecue that I found out later had "liquid smoke" in it; third, we slept in a motel room that had been sprayed with some kind of freshener (Freebreeze maybe). How do you get a motel room that has not been sprayed? I even took my own sheets, pillows and towels because I've had trouble with that before from the laundry detergent. I have to use Tide Free. I take Benadryl and Zyrtec on a regular basis and have Singulair, none of which help much in an attack. I'm going to see my dr. soon. I need something that knock the reaction in the beginning so it doesn't go on for hours and hours.

Good luck with your little guys. It's bad enough when it's you feeling bad, but to have to see your children uncomfortable or sick would be really hard.

jzh999
 
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jzh999 responded:
Hi Aqua14,

Thank you for responding to my letter. At least I know there are other people out there fighting this problem. I've been on about 7 different blood pressure medications, Cozaar included, but they have all given me side effects. My dr. is about to change me yet another time. I have not tried Nasonex or Zaditor so I will ask him about trying those. He said he can't give me allergy shots because they're made up of little bits of the same things you're allergic too and he's afraid with my blood pressure going so high, it could send me over the edge. I take Zyrtec, Benadryl and blood pressure meds daily and I have Singulair. I follow a strict diet of no wheat, chocolate, cod or shell fish. But I also have environmental and smell allergies, which are harder to avoid. If someone hugs me and has perfume on, I need to wash it off right away or I can have an attack. I never had any of these allergies until I reached 55! Or I did and they just weren't at this level.

Thanks for your advice and I'll ask my dr. about those meds. jzh999
 
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TrudyGERD responded:
Wheat is daunting, but I'm off wheat (gluten actually) as is my 10 year old. We're actually also off dairy which is in just as many foods as wheat. It doesn't have to be difficult. It's much easier if you stick with fresh foods. Stop buying all that packaged garbage that's devoid of proper nutrients and expensive. If you'd like, I can give my basic list of a bunch of foods to stick with while trying to figure it out. It does get trickier when you talk about going out, but that can be done to. When going to other people's homes, I generally bring food for myself and my daughter. The purpose is for the company and friends know we have food allergies so nobody is every offended. Again, the whole purpose is for the company of friends, not the food itself. Restaurants can be more difficult, but more and more restaurants are getting it. To start with, stick with restaurants that have gluten free menus such as Outback Steakhouse and PF Changs (yes, a chinese restaurant with a gluten free menu, woo hoo). Over time you'll learn how to order in other restaurants and which restaurants get it. Check out some celiac websites for lists of places that handle gluten free diets well. I keep saying gluten rather than wheat because if something is gluten free then it's automatically wheat free since gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley and oats.

You also need to check medications for your allergens. I do know that name brand Benadryl, Zyrtec and Singulair are gluten free. I'm not sure about the rest of your allergens. I hope you're not taking any kind of omega-3 supplement without ensuring there's no cod. There are many that are sardine based, but there are also many with cod.

For hotel rooms, I do a few things (though remember that I'm not having the problems I used to have). I always request a non-smoking room since they use heavy cleaners and air fresheners in smoking rooms. I always check the pillows for feathers (one of my allergens). If I walk into the room and can tell it's been sprayed, I high-tail it out and just tell the front desk that I need a new room and why. Of course I've never had a problem with laundry detergent so the sheets have never been a problem for me.

As I said above, my environmental allergies don't bother me any more now that I've completely eliminated my food allergens. I would bet that your environmental allergy symptoms will at least lessen if you can completely 100% eliminate your food allergens.
 
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coffee16 responded:
I had never heard of any connection between high blood pressure & allergies, although I did know that some allergy meds can increase blood pressure. I was curious, so I went searching, & the only connection I could find between allergy & hbp was the meds. However, I saw several articles saying that histimine actually dialates the blood vessels & can cause low blood pressure. I know that most people suffer a drop in blood pressure for example if they go into anaphylactic shock. I know that many drs don't like to give allergy shots to people with uncontrolled blood pressure because the meds used to counteract an anaphylactic reaction can increase the blood pressure. but I hadn't heard of a concern that the shot itself might do that. Judy, you are so good at finding this stuff, have you seen anything connecting hbp to allergies? I think it would be interesting to know that. Just one question for you jzh, food tests for allergies aren't the most reliable, has the dr tried you on an elimination diet? Maybe there is an allergy there that hasn't been identified, & the elimination diet could help you determine what foods actually cause you the worst symptoms.
 
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Aqua14 responded:
Hi again,

I had one other thought in reading your other posts. Since some of the things you are sensitive to are not true allergens (perfumey scents like Febreze, or perfume itself), you might also want to talk to your doctor about trying the nasal antihistamine spray Astelin. The patient information on Astelin says that it can be used for addressing allergic-like symptoms caused by irritants such as smoke, perfume, etc. I have never tried it so can't share my experiences with you, but it might be worth trying if you get a free sample from your doctor.

There is one new nasal antihistamine spray, Patanase, but I don't know if it has the same effect on irritants as Astelin reportedly does.

Hope this additional thought helps. Take care. Judy
 
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TrudyGERD responded:
Judy just triggered something else in my memory.

I did at one time have a big problem with chemical sensitivities. It turned out that the damage from my food allergies had made me seriously low in zinc. Zinc helps filter outside toxins. Once I got my zinc levels back to within normal range, I was no longer nearly as sensitive. You might want to get your zinc levels checked. It won't hurt to get other vitamins and minerals checked while you're at it. Get checked for A, B12, D, K, iron, folate and anything else that your doctor wants to add on to that list.
 
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Aqua14 responded:
Yes, there are some studies linking nasal allergies and high blood pressure. This link was noted as far back as 1973. (Of course, there are other studies that show no connection.)

For example, here's a 2006 Israeli study showing that treatment of nasal allergies with Flonase and Allegra improved blood pressure (although only the top, not the bottom, number). The conclusion was that use of anti-allergy medications suppresses low-grade systemic inflammation that drives up BP:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16967045?ordinalpos=10&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

However, I have read a theory that both medical conditions (as well as others, such as asthma and diabetes) are actually caused by systemic inflammation in the body -- which can be due to being overweight, for example, or by eating too many foods high in inflammation-promoting omega 6 arachidonic acid (such as red meat). One book propounding this theory that intrigued me is "Inflammation Nation," by Dr. Floyd Chilton. I have tried some of his dietary suggestions (eating wild salmon, e.g., to get more omega 3 fatty acids), but I'm unsure whether it really works or whether my meds simply control my BP and allergies. Who knows? It's my excuse for eating lots of wild salmon!

Hope this helps. Judy
 
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jzh999 responded:
Thanks for your help. I've been on a wheat free diet for 6 yrs. now so I found out some things the hard way. I think one of the things that caused me this last attack was eating food at the family reunion and guessing at the ingredients. When you ask people if there is wheat in a dish, they say "no" but they really don't realize that wheat is in flour, soups, dressings and gravy. I ate something I thought was Ok but I bet it had wheat. I'm going to take your advice and carry my own food from now on. It's a pain to drag it to another state and have to keep it cold, but it'll be worth it if it avoids an attack. We have some restaurants that are good, like Frisch's, where you can get grilled chicken, potatoes and salad. I'll have to try Outback and PF Chang's. You're right; normally Chinese is one of the worst offenders. I would love to find a good recipe for gluten free bread. I've tried several and they taste like pound cake.

I never thought about the ingredients that go into the actual medication. I'll have to check that out. One thing I did realize though, is that people who are allergic to shell fish cannot take Glucosamine. My orthopedic surgeon said I could use it for bad knees, but when I bought some it tells you right on the label not to use it if you have a shellfish allergy. When I told my doctor he was totally surprised.

I actually didn't smell the aroma in the motel room until the second day. We had asked for a smoke-free room but I wonder if the maid sprayed the room the second day when she made the beds. Do you know if they keep rooms aside especially for people with allergies? That would be nice. I probably should have taken my portable room air cleaner and I will next time.

Thanks for your help and I'll keep this all in mind. Anything to avoid these exhausting attacks. jzh999
 
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jzh999 responded:
Hi Aqua14,

It's funny that you wrote me about Astelin. Today I was still having trouble from the Sun. attack and my jaw and cheek bones ached and my ears were still stopped up some. Since I'd taken all the regular meds. I started searching through the other drugs my allergist has given me over time. Astelin was one I have but haven't used since a sinus infection. I remember it gives me a headache. I tired it anyway, using only 1 spray per nostril instead of two. It worked! My jaw, cheekbones and ears felt better and I only had a slight headache. I'm going to ask my dr. if I should continue to use it in this manner and also for smells. I'll ask about Pantanase too.

Thanks for thinking of me. I'll let you know what the dr. says. jzh999
 
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jzh999 responded:
My allergist says the connection between an allergy attack causing high blood pressure has to do with the excessive release of histamines that occurs. Histamines cause contraction of smooth muscle, making them shorter and thicker which drives the blood pressure up. He said any doctor worth his weight, can tell from red ears or face that a person could be having an allergy attack. I thought the only food tests that were not always reliable were the blood tests. Everything I've read says the skin prick tests are accurate and I've heard lately that the blood tests have gotten more accurate also. Yes, I've also done the eliminatin diet and it proved what the skin prick tests said. Since I've already eliminated wheat, chocolate and fat from my diet, I'd want a test to tell me before I remove anything else. My problem is that I'm picking up more allergies as the years pass. I've become aware of shell fish on my own, and then tested positive. That was an easy one to pin down because it made my mouth itch. I'm stumped to the cause of these 3 recent attacks but it could be environmental or drugs and there are no tests for those. My dr. is on vacation this week but I'm sure if these keep up he'll retest me. His theory is that our bodies change every 7 years. He has seen people go along find with an allergy plan and then all of a sudden it goes haywire. Retesting shows they have new allergies and have outgrown some of the old ones. That's his theory anyway! I'd like to know if anyone has every heard of a specific blood pressure medication that works well for people with allergies. I've tried about 6, all with side effects.

jzh
 
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Aqua14 responded:
A couple of thoughts here. . . .

It is generally true that people with allergic tendencies (called "atopic" people) do tend to develop more allergies as time goes on. (I have never read in the professional allergy literature that it's once every 7 years, though.) Also, women tend to develop allergies, or more allergies, around the time of hormonal shifts -- puberty, pregnancy and menopause. However, getting allergy shots tends to change one's immune system such that it's much less likely that an atopic person would develop new allergies. In fact, there have been some studies done on children with allergies who got allergy shots and were much less likely to develop new allergies, and were also less likely to develop allergic asthma. The theory that I have read is that over time the shots "teach" your immune system to mount a "normal" immune reaction rather than an "abnormal," allergic immune reaction.

Of course, there are no allergy shots available for food allergies as there are for inhalants allergens and insect venom. And allergic-like reactions to irritants such as smoke, perfume, air pollution, etc. cannot be prevented by shots.

I have read a little bit about food allergies, and my understanding is that the "gold standard" for diagnosing food allergies is what's called the "double blind placebo controlled" food challenge, which is a test where neither the physician nor the patient knows what food is in the gelatin capsule that the patient swallows. foodallergies.about.com/od/diagnosingfoodallergies/p/foodchallenges.htm My understanding is that skin prick and blood (RAST) tests for food allergies can show false positives. However, the bottom line is that any test results must be correlated with the patient's reaction in real life. In other words, if shellfish makes your mouth itch, you're probably allergic to it no matter how you test out.

Since I have HBP I have done a lot of reading about HBP meds, and I've never read that there's a specific BP med for people with allergies. Like any other med, it's usually a trial and error process of trying different BP meds in different classes until you find one that works. (FWIW, Cozaar works for me.) I wonder, though, whether H2 blockers (histamine-2 blockers, usually used for GERD) might be helpful, since one of their effects may be to lower blood pressure. H2 blockers are also sometimes used in treatment of hives, so they do have some "off label" uses. Talk about this with your doctor.

And, of course, you could research all the different classes of HBP meds and suggest to your doctor meds in different classes than you've already tried.

Hope these thoughts help. Judy
 
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sadjack responded:
I have read your post with great interest, it has also given me an insight to what has happened to me, but I do not relate mine just to food. I have been in hospital on several ocassions after being sensitized to chemicals, I had a BP of 210/108 on more than four ocassions in 17 months. I still do not have a diagnosis of "Wheat allergy" because it is being masked as I also have Celiac Disease an intolerance to Gluten (from wheat). Apart from being ill I get a rash on my chest and back which has helped me to elimanate many foods and beverages containg any form of wheat or its derivatives, this includes chemicals.