As arthritis sufferers know, joint pain can be triggered by any number of things, such as exercising too much. However, what many people may not realize is the foods you eat can also induce arthritis flare ups. Specifically, if you have an allergy to a food, the reaction will sometimes manifest as arthritis pain rather than anaphylactic shock or other well-known allergy symptoms. Here's more information about this issue.
Arthritis Pain as an Allergic Reaction
To understand how allergies can cause arthritis pain, it's important to learn what happens when your body comes into contact with allergens.
It's the immune system's job to protect the body from environmental invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. When foreign entities enter the body, the immune system releases antibodies and other chemicals that bind to them and escorts them out of the body like bouncers kicking unruly patrons of a club. This is one reason why people who have allergies sneeze, cough, and have runny noses; it's a sign the body is trying to give those allergens the old heave ho.
The issue is allergies can also induce inflammation in the body, which causes the trademark swelling, redness, rashes, and irritation associated with allergies. This inflammation can occur at any place in the body, including the joints. Which means you could experience arthritic pain flare ups each time you eat something you are allergic to.
Diagnosing Food Allergies
The thing about allergies stimulating arthritis pain is sometimes it may be the only symptom that manifests. This can make it difficult to diagnose a food allergy as being the source of chronic pain. To make things even more challenging, sometimes the negative reaction won't show up for several hours and even a day after eating the offending food, so the connection between the allergy and the arthritis is even more obscured.
That doesn't mean it's impossible to determine if there is a connection between your diet and your arthritis. It simply means you'll need to foster a higher level of awareness about what you're putting into your body and how you feel afterwards.
A good place to start is to keep a food and symptom log. Write down all the things you eat in a day and note the time when your arthritis pain flares up. This log can let you see patterns that may help you pinpoint a potential food allergy aggravating your arthritis.
Although people can be allergic to any type of food, some allergens are more common than others. It's a good idea to note how you feel after eating any of the following foods to determine if you may have a hidden allergy to one or more of them:
- Milk and dairy
- Nuts (peanuts in particular)
- Grains with gluten such as wheat, rye, and oats
- Fish and shellfish (e.g. shrimp)
Less common food allergies include corn, meat, seeds, and spices. If your arthritis pain doesn't seem to correspond to any of the main food allergens, consider tracking some of these lesser known ones to determine if one of these is causing problems.
Alternatively, or in addition to, you can be tested for food allergies. This typically involves doing tests on your blood or skin to see what type of reaction different allergens elicit. You can get these tests through your doctor or have them done at an independent laboratory for a fee.
If you discover a connection between the foods you're eating and your arthritis, try eliminating that food from your diet for a few weeks to see if your arthritis pain subsides. You may also want to talk to your doctor about allergy medications you can take that may help mitigate the inflammation caused by ingesting a food you're allergic to.
For more information about this issue or help managing pain from arthritis, contact a knowledgeable healthcare provider.