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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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January 2000

Q. About a year and a half ago, I developed an acute sensitivity to smells (including chemicals, perfumes, car exhaust and other environmental toxins). My reactions include: tasting the chemical, tachycardia and agitation or anxiousness. If I remove myself from the odors, the symptoms disappear. It was suggested I go on a Candida diet, which I have been on for over a year. Presently, I cannot go off this diet without my orifices and scalp itching. In addition I have become extremely sensitive and itchy if I eat the following vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and beets. I have not eaten sweets with refined sugar for 20 years. Also, 6 months ago I developed an intermittent pain under my left rib cage and a feeling of my insides vibrating. I have been tested for parasites with negative results. Is there a possibility that I might have an enzyme deficiency and how does one go about testing for that?

A. It sounds like you have several environmental and food allergies/sensitivities. It is hard to say if the pain under your left ribs is related to this or not. I assume you have had a full history, physical exam and labs checked to exclude other causes. One enzyme deficiency that is quite common can cause gas, abdominal bloating and sometimes diarrhea, is lactase deficiency. As a result, dairy products can not be normally broken down in the intestine. I do not know if you have had such symptoms, but avoiding dairy products such as milk and cheese products can virtually eliminate the symptoms and is virtually diagnostic. Also, if you do have dairy, taking Lactaid tablets with the meal (Lactaid) can help decrease symptoms.

In your case, you may just need to follow the diet that agrees with you best. Make sure you are at least taking a multivitamin with mineral each day, such as Theragran-M, and Calcium each day, such as Tums 500 mg twice per day if you are on a low dairy diet. Good luck.

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