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"Allergies have nothing to do with tics," said the pediatrician


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I had to switch pediatricians because my last one was in complete denial that my son's Tourette's could have been started by an ear infection and she started treating me like I was nuts. In the meantime, we've determined he doesn't have PANDAS, but a PANDAS expert we visited said my son looked allergic and to get allergy testing done. As I wrote in a previous post from January, he's allergic to our dog (and every outdoor allergen, basically) but has no symptoms of allergies. The only symptoms are in the springtime.


Does anyone else's kids have no allergic symptoms who tic and have been shown to have allergies?? Is it typical?


Our new pediatrician that we saw tonight said that he definitely doesn't' have PANDAS, which we knew. And that tics are not caused or triggered by allergies. I mentioned this web site and Sheila's book that has hundreds of stories to the contrary, but he said that there could be several thousand who don't have these reported experiences.


Anyway, I'm confused more than ever. However, the Dr agrees with me that tic medication isn't worth it unless my son is taking a hit on his self-esteem, which thankfully he has not so far--he's only 8 years old. The side effects can be bad. The Dr. is a smart man who does a lot of reading and he's more curious than our last pediatrician, so I don't completely distrust him. I just am even more confused.


I guess I'm just curious: Can someone answer why Tourette's improves for about 50 percent of the kids (and not for the other half) if allergies or environmental causes (things that can be controlled) have something to do with it? In other words: Why does Tourette's spontaneously improve for so many if there are environmental causes behind them?


Thanks for your help!


Feeling lost and losing hope...

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Well, I know some (but not all) kids grow out of normal food allergies, so perhaps it's just simply that some of the Tourette's kids also grow out of their allergies. Something to do with the immune system developing, perhaps?


(Wikipedia has something on this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_allergy - look under "Epidemiology".)


But you can't rely on that happening, and meanwhile anyway the tics are a pain for you and him, so if identifying and dealing with an allergy could help then that's worth doing, even though he might later grow out of the allergy anyway.


At least that's my logic.

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Hi mcturro,


It's quite frustrating when doctors insist that allergies can't be involved with tics. They are following the lead they take from conventional medical sources. Unfortunately, the medical community in general, and the Tourette Syndrome Association (which recently changed its name to Tourette Association of America) in particular, has failed to look into this, despite many reports from physicians and the public that link the two, and research that points in that direction.


An identical twin study supported the role of the environment in Tourette's many years ago, but unfortunately there has been a real failure of the medical community to explore this important issue. The long-standing message given to the public and physicians that TS is solely genetic is now giving way to more focus on environmental factors. But the progress is very slow.


You've really been through a lot already, going from doc to doc and ruling out PANDAS/PANS. Now you need to find answers.


We don't know what percentage of people have traditional allergies (like grass allergy, mold allergy, milk allergy) that are affecting tics, nor what percentage have sensitivities to a wide range of other agents that don't fall under the category of traditional allergens. Toxins also have the potential to affect tics.


Your pediatrician might say the same thing about pesticides as he did about allergy just because he hasn't read a study about it. Yet it is such common sense that most pesticides function as neurotoxins and directly impact the nervous system with the potential to cause tics, tremors, seizures, and more. .

Resourceful parents like you are left to forge a way on your own! Thankfully you have the motivation and open-mindedness to do so.


Yes, thankfully some people appear to outgrow their Tourette's. Many people also outgrow traditional allergies (and food reactions, as Wombat pointed out). Yet at the same time, some have allergies that surface as adults after not being troubled previously, and some adults develop Tourette's for the first time in the their later years.


As you would know, allergic response can depend in part on what part of the country one lives in at a particular time, whether someone moved from a clean house to a moldy house; there are so many factors that aren't on people's radar when they find that tics or allergies are getting better or worse. Hormones can play a role as well. One major exposure to a toxic substance can render a person hypersensitive to low levels of exposures.It can be very individualized, and not easy to sort out.


Dr. Doris Rapp released an excellent book a few decades ago called Is This Your Child? which had a subtitle about discovering and treating unrecognized allergies in children. She was the first to widely promote the concept that children could be reacting in a negative manner--both in behavior and in academics--to foods and allergens/chemicals in the environment. Dr. Rapp included symptoms of Tourette syndrome in her findings.


When parents--and doctors such as the two you went to--don't "recognize" that there is a potential for a connection to tics and allergies/toxins/foods, then they don't look for the connection nor do they ask families about any connections they may have observed on their own. And worse, they often discourage parents from looking for a link between tics and environmental exposures by telling them it is a waste of time. Meanwhile these doctors have no helpful answers to give when it comes to tics.


We never say that everyone with tics or Tourette's has allergies. But we do know that for many people, there is an important connection that should be looked into--and that learning about this can be very helpful in treating the symptoms of Tourette's and avoiding exposures that can aggravate the symptoms. If there is no connection, then so be it. But if there is, learning of it is a real godsend.


You could share these article summaries with your pediatrician since you said he likes to read. The first was a small study, the second was large.

Association of Tourette syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder with allergic diseases in children and adolescents: a preliminary study

RESULTS: While only one-fifth of the control subjects had allergic diseases, more than half of the children with TS and/or OCD had comorbid allergic diseases. Positive skin prick tests were greater in OCD patients compared to control subjects. There were no significant differences between the groups in terms of eosinophil counts or IgE levels. Among the allergic diseases, while allergic rhinitis was diagnosed at significantly higher rates in TS patients, eczema was significantly higher in OCD patients compared to control subject. CONCLUSIONS: This preliminary study shows an association between allergic diseases and TS and/or OCD. The results revealing differences in associations between types of allergic disease (rhinitis or eczema) and neuropsychiatric disorder (tic disorder or OCD) need to be investigated in further studies with higher numbers of participants, and immune markers should be examined.


Here's another one:

Correlation of Tourette syndrome and allergic disease: nationwide population-based case-control study.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data showed significant correlation between allergic diseases and TS. Risk also increased with number of allergic comorbidities and with age. Further studies on the mechanism of neuroimmunology of TS are required.


- - - - - - -


Hang in there and please don't feel lost. (You can feel overwhelmed though, we all did in your situation :P ) And don't feel hopeless. With the right doctor you can move in different directions and find more answers. The professionals you have been to simply couldn't help you. But there is much help to be had.



Do you want to tell us more about your child? .

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Thanks so much Wombat and Sheila for your responses. It really helps. But I've got to tell you the pediatrician had me convinced my son's tics aren't allergy related, especially since he has no allergy symptoms. However, after hearing from you, I'm not giving up hope!!


Sheila, you asked a little bit more about my son. He's 8 years old and started mildly ticcing on and off when he was six (some were there for a month when he was four but they quickly went away and stayed away for two years). Then, in March of last year (when he was 7), his tics went from mild and intermittent to CONSTANT. It all happened after he was diagnosed with seasonal allergies (that is one allergy he DOES have symptoms for) as well as an ear infection. If you see my post from January, I tell the whole story there about the potential for PANDAS and then how it is not PANDAS and how we got to the point where we are now.


We saw an allergist (an MD with a integrative medicine background) in January who told us to take him off the Claritin (for kids with tics it may not work the same way as it wasn't working at all) and said to take high-end, organic supplements (B Complex, Probiotic, multivitamin and DHA). To keep our dog out of his room, shampoo weekly etc. (I explain it in the last post). He was also allergic to dust and just about every outdoor allergen.


We've been on this anti-allergy plan for about a month, and so far no significant improvement. The one time we did notice a difference was a few days after my dog was professionally groomed, but then we had a neighbors dog here for two days (I already committed to watching the dog), and my son's tics came back that afternoon the dog left. But I don't know if it was just a fluke or if it's dust or some other allergen. Or maybe none of the above?


He still tics at school like he does at home as well as at church and there are no dogs there. So it's hard to know what's going on and how long after he's exposed does he react??


So frustrating that it's this hard to find the cause. I still can't believe the pediatrician said in so many words that this is normal for a body to be ticcing (either grunting, shoulder shrugging, eye blinks, neck bends) every minute of every day and we should just get used to it.


How is that normal???

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  • 2 weeks later...

I read your latest letter and since it is now very clear that your son has a number of different allergies, it is important to zero in on those.


When it comes to allergies, the most important factor of course is avoidance whenever possible.


This article from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has good information on what to do if someone is allergic to a pet and keeping it in the house, which seems to be your situation. Here


I assume your doctor gave you ideas on controlling dust in the house?


I know it might seem overwhelming to have different types of allergies to deal with, but at the same time it should be encouraging that this could be connected to his tics.


One thing you haven't mentioned is diet. Did the allergist say about food allergy or intolerance?

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