RAST Testing for Allergies....What's the Point?

This is my rant about the RAST test....

What's the Point?!
 When my children were diagnosed with allergies (both environmental and food allergies), these diagnoses were made with the skin test.  I had heard other parents talking about their child's RAST numbers from blood testing and asked my doctor why she was not recommending these tests for my children.  Her explanation was that the skin test in itself was a reliable, accurate test for allergies and the positive skin test was enough of an indication to diagnose the allergy.  She explained that the RAST test would not really provide any more valuable information.  Apparently, the numbers are meaningless in that they cannot predict the severity of future reactions.  

Over the last year, we have been through a lot with my daughter's food allergies.  A life-threatening anaphylactic reaction to almonds really shook us as a family and we were humbled by the threat that these types of allergies pose.  We met with our peadiatric allergist for retesting (apparently the negative skin test to tree nuts was inaccurate)...the retest confirmed her allergy.  We tried several BIE treatments through our naturopath to "clear" her allergies.  I will write another post about that experience soon!....  Even skin contact causes our daughter to react and she has had hives on several occasions from touching something that was contaminated.  So...at our last peadiatric allergist appointment we decided it was time to do the RAST test.  
We were unclear as to the severity of her allergies with the skin tests...the doctor explained that for some children with very sensitive skin and eczema, they can have false positive skin tests because their skin simply over-reacts.  Even the negative control scratch would have some reaction.  Hopeful that perhaps one of her food allergies could be negative after the BIE and another year passing, I said "Let's do it".   My doctor prescribed EMLA cream to numb the area prior to the blood testing.  Unfortunately, the pharmacist convinced me not to use the cream because she said the bandaid type sticker that you put on with the application of the cream is actually more painful when removed than the needle would be itself.  This was bad advice according to my friends who have used the cream for their children and found that they didn't even flinch when given their needle.  My poor daughter found the blood test excruciating.  7 viles of blood were taken, a bill of $315 (can you believe that this is not covered by OHIP for a life-threatening condition?), and a three week wait for the results.....

Finally, the doctor called with the results....and guess what?!  They were USELESS!  The test provided me with a bunch of numbers that basically mean nothing and although some foods that we believed she was allergic to came up negative, new ones that we didn't think were a problem were positive.  How disappointing.  My doctor explained that her numbers were considered moderate and that meant that there is a chance she can outgrow the allergies perhaps in her teens....

Frustrated with the seemingly wasted effort and pain of getting this test performed, I googled for information regarding the results of these tests and their significance.  I found a site called Lab Tests Online: A Public Resource on Clinical Lab testing from the laboratory professionals who do the testing.  Here are some snippets of the article on RAST testing: (for the full article CLICK HERE)

Allergy Blood Testing

Also known as: RAST test; Radioallergosorbent test; Allergy screen
Formal name: Allergen-specific IgE antibody test

How is it used?

The allergen-specific IgE antibody test is a blood test used to screen for an allergy to a specific substance or substances if a person presents with acute or chronic allergy-like symptoms. This is especially true if symptoms are recurrent and appear to be tied to triggers, such as exposures to particular foods or environments, and if other family members are known to have allergies. A variety of different types of allergy tests may be performed by exposing a person to different substances under careful medical supervision (see Common Questions). The usefulness of these tests, however, can be affected by skin conditions, such as significant dermatitis or eczema, and by medications, such as histamines and some anti-depressants. With some tests there is also the potential for severe reactions, including a severe reaction that may be life-threatening. In these cases, the allergen-specific IgE antibody test may be ordered as an alternative, as it is performed on a blood sample and does not have an effect on the person being tested.
 A test may also be ordered occasionally to help evaluate the effectiveness of immunotherapy or to determine whether a child has outgrown an allergy.
The allergen-specific IgE antibody test may also be done to monitor immunotherapy (desensitization) or to see if a child has outgrown an allergy. It can only be used in a general way, however, as the level of IgE present does not correlate to the severity of an allergic reaction, and someone who has outgrown an allergy may have a positive IgE for many years afterward.  So what's the point?

What does the test result mean?

Negative results indicate that a person probably does not have a "true allergy," an IgE-mediated response to that specific allergen, but the results of allergen-specific IgE antibody tests must always be interpreted and used with caution and the advice of the doctor. Even if an IgE test is negative, there is still a small chance that a person does have an allergy. Elevated results usually indicate an allergy, but even if the specific IgE test is positive, a person may or may not ever have an actual physical allergic reaction when exposed to that substance. The amount of specific IgE present does not necessarily predict the potential severity of a reaction. A person's clinical history and additional medically supervised allergy tests may be necessary to confirm an allergy diagnosis.

If you can explain to me the point of this testing, please leave a comment to share!  I would love more information! 

Don't be scared of Hallowe'en!

Hallowe'en can be especially scary for parents of children with food allergies.  This year, you need not be afraid...check out these amazing treats for Hallowe'en.  They are DAIRY, EGG, GLUTEN and NUT free!!!!
Now that's not so scary is it?

The Environment & Our Children

A Focus on the Environment and our Children

We all went the best for our children -the best schools, the best doctors, the best foods...
As our Planet becomes more toxic, we must consider the environment where our children live and the quality of the air they breathe and the water they drink.

All things are interdependent....what we do has consequences.  If we make positive choices, we are able to affect the future.  Also, by teaching our children about caring for the environment...we are influencing their actions as they grow into decision-making, independent adults.

There are more than a billion households on earth.  Homes surpass industry in how they contribute to water pollution.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that the toxic chemicals in household cleaners are 3x more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air.  In the last 50 years, over 80 000 new chemicals have been produced and the majority of them have not been tested for their long-term impact. A consumer product safety commission study in the U.S. found that 150 chemicals found in the average home are linked to allergies, birth defects, cancers, psychological abnormalities, etc.

Toxins that enter our environment are ravaging our lives -and even more so the lives of our children.
Because children are smaller and still developing, they are far more vulnerable to toxic exposure than adults.

Knowing that Norwex offers a healthier alternative for cleaning and knowing that children mimic every action...  has led to the development of the new Norwex kids line!

Kids love to help out and now you can provide them with their own cleaning tools that are safe and non-toxic.  With Norwex, it is actually safe and educational to let your child touch the cleaning supplies!

When you share your passion for chemical-free cleaning with your children, you are teaching them about making educated decisions as a future consumer, how to protect the environment and how to make decisions that affect health and well-being.

Our mission to save the planet can start with children by offering kid-focused products.  This early focus will teach them to grow up cleaning without chemicals.  Cleaning with microfiber and water is how you clean.

Happy Cleaning!

The Allergy Mom

Is My Apple Washed?

Fruits and vegetables are sprayed with toxic chemicals to protect them from pests and fungal attacks.  They are coated with a wax/oil to prevent the produce from decaying and to preserve the quality and appearance of the produce during transportation.  This waxy layer is also a host for microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Also of note for persons with food allergies...the wax that is used on fruit may contain SOY or MILK ingredients.  

The Norwex Veggie cloth is back!  It has a rough side for scrubbing and smooth side for polishing.  It cleans the dirt off potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and debris from fruits and vegetables.  This cloth has been scientifically proven to remove the coating and nasties from  your fruit and veggies!

Norwex also offers a Fruit and Veggie Wash called Fresh Wash.  This specifically formulated fruit and veggie wash is a safe, effective alternative for cleaning fruit and vegetables.  This product will also protect fruit from damage during storage or transport and extends produce shelf life by 2 to 3 times. To use: Mix one capful in 500 ml of water, soak your fruits or veggies for 5-10 minutes, rinse well and enjoy!

Want these products?  Check out my Norwex website:  http://melissascheichl.norwex.biz

Check out the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's information on their

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Chemical Residue Sampling Program.


Now go and enjoy the wonderful Fall season and pick some apples!


The Allergy Mom

Fall Cleaning

Did you know there is such a thing as 
"Fall Cleaning?"   
....  it seems that with the change of seasons we are inspired to refresh our spaces and clean house!   I personally am feeling the itch to get out my Autumn decorations and put away the Summer clothes, shoes and toys.

Have you ever heard of Norwex?   I am a huge fan of their chemical-free, non-toxic, natural cleaning products.  If you are a fan or have been wanting to try Green cleaning without chemicals, this is  a great time to try it out!  Check out my norwex website at:  http://melissascheichl.norwex.biz
Traditional chemical cleaning products are expensive, TOXIC and less effective than Norwex

I was very excited and proud to see the interest in Norwex at my friend Carrie's "Women's Expo" that she hosted last week.  As always, Carrie threw a great event with fun, prizes and of course yummy nibblies and bevies!   Thanks Carrie!   Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a salesperson and my approach as a Norwex consultant has always been as a teacher to share my love and passion for chemical-free and allergy-free living.   Carrie's event was great because the guests were so interested in Norwex and had heard of it before.

The word is out....Norwex rocks!!!  
The hot items were the mop (if you have hardwood floors you will LOVE the mop!), the Fall Dishpack (which I am recommending as a teacher gift for Christmas this year because it is such a great deal! and great bang for the buck), and the Fall Cleaning Pack (my favourite!).

Interested in FREE NORWEX? 
Host a party!  A Norwex party is simple to organize and it is a lot of fun!  My friend Carrie earned all of these items FREE for having me at her Women's Expo:
  • 1 Makeup Removal Package
  • 1 Car Wash Mitt
  •  1 Spirisponge
  • 1 Washing Net
  •  1 Grey Kitchen Scrub Cloth
  •  1 Superior Cloth (Green/Blue) 40cm x 40cm
  • 1 Travel Pack, antibac  enviro cloths(set of 4)
  • 1 Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent

She also earned a credit of over $50 to buy anything she wants from Norwex! Don't have time to host a party?  Have a Virtual Party!   You can bring a catalogue and order forms to work, when you visit family or friends, or advertise on your Facebook page and email, etc., and any orders you receive will allow you to earn FREE NORWEX products and Norwex credit!

Please contact me if you are interested in finding out how you can host a real or virtual party!