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Re: [RC] Allergies, etc. - heidi

Okay, here's the thing about allergies.  Usually, with each exposure the
the substance causing the allergic reaction, the reaction becomes worse;
so, just because she has never had an anaphylactic reaction to anything
she has eaten doesn't mean she won't.  And itchiness and watery runny
eyes are a couple of the early stages of anaphylaxis (it is just that in
true emergency anaphylactic reactions those stages are gone through VERY
quickly :))

Ummm...  Not exactly.... (as they say in the rental car commercials...)

There are two entirely different classifications of hypersensitivities
(allergies).  The immediate class involves the release of histamines,
serotonin and bradykinins, causing edema, muscle contraction, etc.  These
immediate types of hypersensitivity are further broken down into three
classifications (and I don't seem to have a reference at my fingertips, no
time to hunt for one, and I won't pretend to remember which number is
assigned to which type).  Only one of these types is anaphylaxis, but all
three involve the runny eyes and nose bit, etc.  As you state, severe
anaphylaxis runs through these stages so fast that one isn't aware of
them.  But--it isn't accurate to suggest that the runny eyes, etc. are
necessarily mild cases of anaphylaxis--they usually aren't, and as such
can't "progress" into anaphylaxis.  Food allergies CAN fall into the
immediate class (including the anaphylaxis category), but (as I know all
to well as a sufferer of multiple food allergies myself) also often fall
into the delayed class of hypersensitivity along with some forms of
contact dermatitis.  These involve reactions of specialized lymphocytes
with the antigen, and are generally expressed as rashes and itching. 
Because of the delay (often 24-48 hours) before symptoms occur, these can
be tough to pinpoint sometimes.

Mixed forms of reactions can and do occur.

I went to the site that she provided (and despite the fact that I
consider much of the information provided suspect considering what I
know about my own allergies and would look for corraborating information
elsewhere...which Mel is) and one of the things that it says is:

Since horses cannot be hyposensitized to foods, elimination is the
only form of treatment in the case of food allergies. Should your
horse test positive to foods, your veterinarian will recommend the
proper diet based on the blood test and your horses medical history.

So, by the site's own treatment recommendations, it says that their
shots aren't going to do a horse any good for its food allergies.  As a
consequence, (if the allergy tests are right, more on that below), then
this particular horse, because it appears to be allergic to virtually
everything that horse's normally eat, would fall into the category of
"picky eater" (not because it won't eat everything that is put in front
of it, but rather because it shouldn't).

OTOH, specific allergies exacerbate all allergies in general, so
desensitizing to environmental allergens can (and often does) reduce
reactions to food allergies to the point that they become tolerable.  I
was free of reactions to food allergies for years following
desensitization to pollens and danders, and did not have a problem again
until I tried to take a progesterone-containing contraceptive several
years ago.  One little-known side effect of progesterone is that it can
excite mast cells and hence exacerbate allergies--and it did it to me
big-time.  It took nearly four years to get back to some semblance of
normal skin (my chest and back looked like a weepy welt and itched like
crazy) but now I can once again partake of the more mild foods in
reasonable quantities.  (My two worst ones are coffee and tomatoes--I skip
coffee altogether, but an occasional pizza or a rare bit of tomato in
salad or on a burger is tolerable.)

Allergies are also exacerbated by stress, illness, poor diet, inadequate
rest, etc.

And I have to agree with
Karen, _I_ wouldn't consider a horse that is this picky of an eater to
be a good candidate for endurance.  Especially if I were in Southern
California (which Mel is) since most of the grass that covers the
Southern California hillsides is oat grass, so if the horse does any
grazing along the trail its gonna be getting one of the foods it is
allergic to.

I agree that in acute stages, this horse is "not a prospect"--and I don't
think that is what the poster is asking.  But like any other illness, if
this one can be successfully treated and kept under control without drugs
at a later point, there is a good chance that the horse might be a
"prospect" again at a later date.

However, the site also says:

If it has an allergy to pollens, you might expect to see all or more
of the symptoms in the spring or summer. If, however, the horse
has a problem with molds or food related allergies, you are more
likely to see year-round symptoms.

And Mel says:

I was thinking the same thing EXCEPT that I've had problems
with bumps, watery eyes, scratching herself bloody in the chest
from March to Nov.

Which, if the allergy site is to be believe suggests that it is not food
that she is allergic to since in food related allergies "you are more
likely to see year-round symptoms."

I agree.  See above about allergies exacerbating each other.  And because
of the above, I'd suspect that if the environmental allergies can be
gotten under control, the food allergies might be mild enough to be
workable.  No, I wouldn't recommend an alfalfa diet--but she has a good
probability of getting to the point that grabbing a bite of someone else's
alfalfa at a vet check won't be cause for alarm.

All that said, if I had a horse that was this allergic to what appears
to be normal in most horse's lives, I would concentrate on figuring out
how to manage these allergies and wouldn't be trying to do endurance
rides on the horse at the same time, so the question of whether the
shots are legal with the AERC is irrelevant.

While I agree in the acute stages, IF this mare requires occasional
injections to remain desensitized, then the question is indeed relevant.


Black care rarely sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough 
~  Theodore Roosevelt

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[RC] Allergies, etc., k s swigart