Dear Dr. Gott: I’m hoping this information will be helpful to many of your readers. I am a healthy 57-year-old female. Ten years ago, my husband and I lived in Virginia because he was in the Army. I became ill with tingling and numbness in my left arm and also aching joints. After numerous doctor visits, MRIs, etc., I still had no diagnosis. Then, about three months later, I awoke with my arms and torso covered in hives. I immediately went to see an allergist who told me that I was allergic to something that had caused the hives to develop, but he also said it was wreaking havoc inside my body and making my arm and joints ache. I started taking an antihistamine every day for two years and was absolutely fine.
For some dumb reason, I stopped taking it, and last year I had another strange episode: This time, it was strong pains in my breasts. It felt as though I was lactating, but I knew I could not be. Again, I had many doctor visits and also underwent a sophisticated mammogram. I was told I had fibromyalgia, because I also had aches and muscle pains. I disagreed with the diagnosis and began researching on my own.
We had gotten a new dog four months earlier, and, after talking to friends, I decided to stay away from the dog. Sure enough, I began feeling better. Then I told my boss at work, a female, about the strange breast pain, and she immediately told me that I must be allergic to the dog because her little boy had similar reactions to his new dog. His underarms swelled up painfully. I was elated to solve this!
We returned the dog to the shelter, and I was immediately tested for allergies. I was allergic to cats and dogs, not to mention many grasses, molds, trees and house dust. I will never stop taking my daily antihistamine, and I have been feeling great ever since restarting it.
Dear Reader: I have printed your letter because I find it interesting that you say you have joint, muscle and breast pain due to allergies.
Most allergies cause itchy, watery, red eyes; a runny nose and/or congestion; coughing, wheezing or other asthma-like symptoms; skin rashes, hives or swelling. The type of symptoms experienced depends on the allergen and how you came into contact with it. Pet dander, for example, is typically inhaled, so skin manifestations, while possible, are not generally seen.
I am unable to find any reliable scientific evidence that shows that any allergen, let alone pet dander, can cause joint, muscle or breast pain. I was able to find personal testimonies that claimed these symptoms due to allergies, but there is nothing to substantiate the claims. Perhaps this is something that should be further investigated by the medical and scientific communities.
I am not in any way dismissing your claims. I am simply stating that at this point there is no hard evidence to back up the claims. The fact that you have experienced relief by taking a daily antihistamine is compelling nonetheless.
To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Allergies.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped envelope and a $2 check or money order to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title or print an order form off my website at www.AskDrGottMD.com.
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