allergic reaction or anxiety? or both?

Started by StridAst, September 04, 2016, 08:24:36 PM

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So I'm 40 and I've been diagnosed with food allergies for almost a year now. after obvious reactions to both peanut and chickpeas. Hives from armpits to toes for 6-10 days for any peanut contact, however minor, and humus closed my esophagus off so tight I couldn't swallow, even water to wash it down. Vomiting eventually cleared the food impaction after 10 min followed by mental confusion and feeling very tired. (Was convinced I hadn't vomited despite the mess) I do carry an epipen now.  Other allergens I tested positive for are every single other legume they have tested me on (soy included) sunflower, beef, onion, and garlic along with numerous fruits that might be oral allergy syndrome.  So now that we have established that there are plentiful with no shortage of triggers, we get to the part that's perplexing me.

I have not been certain of reactions to soy. I have an IGE test that says it's probable.  When I cut it out of my diet I had a huge reduction in anxiety attack frequency.  But they still happen.  Both times I've had an anxiety attack since, I've googled the chemical names on things I had eaten and found they were possible unlabeled soy products. (Magnesium Stearate and Stearic Acid specifically)

Symptoms.  The most recent one was last night.  Sudden panic about something that didn't really warrent any real panic followed by severe gastrointestinal distress.  Had less then 5 min to find a toilet. Hit flashes cold sweats, mental confusion,  drowsiness.  This hit last night around 7 pm.  Horrible sleep last night. It's now 7pm again so 24 hours Worst of the feelings of anxiety have  faded. Still no appetite and still diarrhea. I still feel off though the mental confusion is much less.  In about 5 min I went from nothing, to full on worst stomach flu ever symptoms.

Now I drank a limeaid last night. (calypso brand) I had an anxiety attack like this a couple years ago while drinking one. It has nothing that might have soy in it except *maybe* citric acid. (Read conflicting info on if that's a soy product.)
Time from ingesting the drink to onset of the panic attack was 20-30 min.  Time after taking some generic Tylenol that contains the stearic acid was around 6 hours..... Way long for an allergic reaction.

Last bit of info. My mom is anaphylactic to halibut. However her blood pressure crashed 10 hours or so after eating it the last time she ate fish. So there's both a family history for me (both sides) of food allergies, and for delayed reaction.

Am I being too paranoid in thinking it might be allergies and not a run of the mill anxiety attack? Or should I use an epipen next time and find out?  Expensive as they are?

Tl:DR.  How do you tell the difference between anaphylaxis and severe anxiety?

Reactions to: chickpeas, peanuts, onion, garlic, sunflower, safflower, peas, cherry, almonds and probably soy
Tested positive for, allergy unconfirmed:  beef, carrots, beans, milk, apples, raspberry.
Asthma, EE also


Just to add, I also have asthma, EOE, and get allergic conjunctivitis if I so much as walk into a room with a cat. With plenty of environmental allergens.  Definitely atopic here, so it's my natural inclinationt at this point to assume allergy.

Reactions to: chickpeas, peanuts, onion, garlic, sunflower, safflower, peas, cherry, almonds and probably soy
Tested positive for, allergy unconfirmed:  beef, carrots, beans, milk, apples, raspberry.
Asthma, EE also


I really can't speak to stearic acid, but the symptoms you're describing wet sleepiness, spaciness and diarrhea--I get those.

Did your doctor give you an emergency action plan?
Me: Sesame, shellfish, chamomile, sage
DS: Peanuts


Mostly my allergist just prescribed me the epipens, prilosec + a steroid inhaler to swallow for the EoE and told me to use the epipen if I had a severe reaction.  He seemed to be mostly focused on sending people through to the shot clinic for the environmentals.  *Shrug* he is board certified and all that, but when I asked him on the third visit if allergies could cause anything like an anxiety attack he just told me probably not.  I'm not convinced he's worth seeing a 4th time.

Reactions to: chickpeas, peanuts, onion, garlic, sunflower, safflower, peas, cherry, almonds and probably soy
Tested positive for, allergy unconfirmed:  beef, carrots, beans, milk, apples, raspberry.
Asthma, EE also


If seeing someone else is an option, I would look for someone that specializes in food allergy - a lot of allergists tend to treat more from the environmental allergy/pulmonology side.  If you share where you are around, some members might be able to recommend someone close to you.  I had to fire an 'iffy' allergist before I got the current one that I loved - the past allergist was giving me asthma advice that I am reasonably certain would have killed me.

That said, anxiety can be a tricky thing in terms of food allergy and the like.  I don't typically have a problem with allergies and anxiety, but I do with asthma - sometimes I wonder if my chest is tight because my asthma is acting up or I am just anxious.


Layton utah.  The allergist I saw was at Rocky Mountain Allergy Asthma and Immunology.

Reactions to: chickpeas, peanuts, onion, garlic, sunflower, safflower, peas, cherry, almonds and probably soy
Tested positive for, allergy unconfirmed:  beef, carrots, beans, milk, apples, raspberry.
Asthma, EE also

Laura Spain

Hi there. I have no answer to your anxiety question, however, I am actually turning 27 tomorrow and am in the exact same boat as you. I went and had an allergy skin test done 2 weeks ago and went into anaphylaxis. I found out I had oral allergy syndrome and a very bad allergy to tree nuts, which is strange because almond joys used to be my favorite candy bar until one day my lips and throat started to swell. Since finding out, I can't figure out if I'm having allergic reactions or anxiety. I tend to freak out after eating anything and everything, even if it's not on my allergy list. I cling to my epi pen and look like a crazy person because I am in a constant state of fear. Has your anxiety gotten any better since you posted? I'm desperate for some help and all I'm getting from people around me is frustration and negativity, which makes it even harder.


Hi Laura Spain!  Sorry you are going through this.  I am a mom of a Senior in high school with multiple food allergies.  I don't have first hand experiences to share other than after anaphylaxis, I know my DD will only eat at home for quite awhile (we do not keep her allergens in our home) and eventually when she is ready, she will venture back out into the public starting first with only well trusted establishments.

I have however dealt with anxiety. I would wake thinking I was having a heart attack....and very quickly, the same anxiety reared it's ugly head during the day.  And yes, I went to the ER a few times for it.  The anxiety (and now ironically eating chicken) caused my esophagus to spasm.  The squeezing and pain in my chest scared me and it would blossom from there.

I did go on meds briefly because my doctor explained that the only way to beat anxiety is to break the pattern/cycle and for me in her opinion it was meds.  I hated how I felt with them....hated it.  But I also was not having episodes.  I agreed to a half dose and only for 2 weeks.  I found other ways that worked for me to relax at certain times of the day and it really did work.  I remember the first time I went a day without a panic episode.  It was such a relief.

I don't know what specifically will work for you, my suggestion is to break the pattern in a positive safe way.


I would echo what Purplecat suggests.  I've also had anxiety that required temporary meds to break the cycle of panic attacks.  I occasionally still use something for certain triggers like air travel and dental work. 

Food allergy anxiety is tricky.  You need to eat.  So, you really need to face it head on. 
dd with peanut, tree nut and raw egg allergy


I've found that seeing a psychologist helped me bring my anxiety to manageable levels.  I had a more severe mental illnesses that needed treatment as well, and then the psychologist was able to work with my food allergy anxiety too, creating a plan of making safe places, eating guaranteed safe foods, and recognizing the body's ability to tell me it is ok.  We had to bring my safety circle in very tight for a long time until I could manage, then slowly expanded it until we found a balance that was both comfortable and safe.  (Combined with a conservative allergy action plan form my allergist - which the psychologist worked with me on how to recognize and differentiate symptoms, always opting to Epi when in doubt.)

I also saw two horrible psychologists, so if the first one(s) you find aren't respecting your situation and the severity of your allergies, find a new one.  It may take several tries to find one that will be the right fit for you and your situation.  See if your allergist has any recommendations. 
ANA peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, potato, sorghum

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