Since I was a little girl, I have suffered from chronic headaches, rashes, joint pains (I was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when I was 11) and intestinal issues. At age 12, I had an allergy test and found out I was allergic to corn. However, none of the various symptoms I suffered from were connected to the corn allergy. As a teenager, I went on to develop asthma and increasingly frequent stomach aches. In my twenties, I started getting chronic bronchitis and sinus infections, which my doctor said was caused by my asthma. The near-daily headaches turned into head "pains" when I was about 24, and by age 30 I was also diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS - it's as awful as it sounds!) and chronic migraine headaches.
A neurologist (finally) made the connection between the migraines and the food allergy. I was put on a medication to prevent migraines and also stopped eating products that had identifiable corn products in them (i.e., cornstarch or corn syrup). At that point, the headaches became minimal and my rashes cleared up. However, I still suffered from asthma and IBS. Eventually, I realized that the medicines I was taking contained corn derivatives! I stopped taking the medications immediately, promptly eliminated even more foods that contained corn, and stopped getting asthma attacks. In January, 2001, I got very diligent about every little teeny drop of anything that might have corn in it, and my IBS went away. In addition, I don't come down with colds nearly as much as I used to (from about 12 colds a year to 1 or 2 colds a year!!!), and very seldom get a sinus infection anymore. It's been years since I've suffered from bronchitis, and the only stomach issues I've had in years were at the same time as an allergy reaction.
My allergic reaction symptoms include:
- Migraine headaches of levels from annoying to emergency room
- Tingling sensation at the base of my neck that lasts for hours
- Asthma attacks and/or shortness-of-breath
- Tongue and face swelling
- "Raccoon" eyes and lines from my eyes down across my cheeks
- Rashes and hives, especially if something's applied topically (like sunscreen)
- Intestinal issues, such as stomach discomfort/cramps/pain, diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting
- Lethargy varying from tired to (literally) not able to stay awake
- Joint pains, especially overnight and in my legs
- Weakened immune system; sinus infections
I wish I could say definitively that mood swings or behavioral changes are also caused by the allergy, but it could also be that I get moody and grumpy just because I don't feel well. However, others swear that the corn alters behavior.
Unfortunately, the intensity of my reactions has been increasing over the years. There are a couple of viable reasons for this. The first is that I have become more sensitive over time. This is a frustrating side effect of having an allergy. The other is that the use of corn has grown over the last few decades, especially since the 1990's. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done about this now. The government has high sugar tariffs (in America), subsidizes corn producers, and researchers are always looking for more ways to use our surplus of corn.
These days, if I accidentally eat something bad, I typically get a migraine headache which can last for days and/or be so severe I have to go to the emergency room. If it's something like corn syrup, that's a guaranteed trip to the ER, and my stomach and bowels act up too. If it's something topical, I get rashes and migraine-like headaches. I also still get tongue and face swelling, short-of-breath (haven't had an outright asthma attack in a while though), lethargy and hives as well. If anyone near me has a cold, I'll get sick as well, and more often than not, come down with a sinus infection. The past couple of years have been increasingly bad for me in terms of breathing in fumes of products that have corn in them, such as cleaning products, perfumes and hair spray.