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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monitoring histamine like blood glucose

OK, I admit it in public: I have Type 2 diabetes. Controlled by diet.

Regularly monitoring my blood sugar with the home tests made  a great difference:
  • I learned how much of my mental state - alertness, fatigue, ability to concentrate - is related to blood sugar. Not all, but a lot.
  • I learned that what I thought was low blood sugar, hypoglycemia, is more often than not high blood sugar, hyperglycemia.
Regular tracking has helped me keep to my diet and exercise program.


Since tracking my blood sugar has helped so much, I wonder about tracking another health issue for me: allergies.

Since I have started tracking and logging and journaling more diligently, I have noticed what I call a "pre-allergy" pattern: there are days when I definitely have allergies, sniffling, etc. And days when I am definitely clear of allergies.  But there are also days when I don't feel clear of allergies, but when I don't really have allergy syndromes: instead of my nose being blocked (as it is today), I just feel a little tickle.

The funny thing is that these "pre-allergy" days seem to be the days that I am most likely to be irritable and anxious and have trouble concentrating.  Sure, sniffling all day long can be distracting, but I have started feeling relieved when I wake up sniffling, because that usually means I will have a relatively good day at work. Except for the sniffling.  A full blown allergy attack - constant sniffling, eyes sore, skin itching - is distracting, but a mild one can be worked through.

I call these days of low but present allergy symptoms "pre-allergy" because quite often after a few days of "pre-allergy" I will have more intense allergy symptoms.  Although sometimes it is post-allergy as well.  I imagine that it is the "shoulders" of my allergy intensity curve, at levels just below the levels that trigger full allergy attacks.

I wonder if there is a home blood test to measure allergic intensity, i.e. histamine levels?  I can see that there are lab tests for histamine, http://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/histamine_level_whole_blood.html.  But they are heavyweight - go to a lab.  Not something you can measure 2-3 times a day, as I measue my blood sugar.


OK, I admit it further: since I started tracking my blood sugar, I have gotten into Quantified Self / Personal Monitoring.

For manual tracking of ...probably too many things... I use KeepTrack on my Samsung Galaxy Player.

But its best when the tracking is done automatically.  E.g. I splureged on the Withings wifi connected scale, http://www.withings.com/en/bodyscale, that uploads my weight to their website every time I weigh myself. Without me having to intervene.

I had hopes for MapMyHike, http://www.mapmyhike.com/.  It's great when it works.  But (1) the GPS on my Samung device is unreliable, at least where I live, an area with deep ravines and canyons and poor sky exposure, and (2) even tolerating the GPS fragility, the MapMyHike app is much slower than most other aps, and often loses data that it has promised to upload later.

I wish there was an aggregator for these cloud based tracking tools.  I would like to see all of my stuff in one place.

etc, etc.


khb said...

Consider byetta; it's one of the few drugs which reduces glucose intolerance. The standard of care makes it something they add late; but if the theory that it's the INSULIN level that causes a lot of the damage is true, even if your glucose level is under control, it doesn't mean the insulin level is. And while it can be tested, there's no analog of the Ha1C test to show it's average value over time.

Also, if you have even a little asthma you may be able to score Xolair, which actively decreases allergy response across the board (at least it does for me, and other patients of my ENT). It's pricey, and involves fancy DNA trickery.

leora said...

FYI, my allergic reactions (to practically everything) were significantly reduced when I gave up dairy products. - leora

Yannouch et Cricri said...

Interesting observation Andy.

Actually Histamine is an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain (like nor-adrenalin, Serotonin and Dopamine)

Histamine actually INCREASES attention and vigilence and taking those antihistamines can induce problems with decresed attention and decreased energy levels even if the new er ones are less likely to cause drowsiness.

Many people with ADD will attest to the fact that antihistamines aggravate their ADD.

What is truly facinating is that it may well be that the increase in histamine reactivity is actually one of the ways that the body actually tries to counteract the ADD. Thus the elevated histamine levels might actually be a form of autoregulated self-medication rather than simply a negative problem or disease!