Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Allergic to Toothpaste?

You betcha!

For a month, we analyzed everything that our little one touched and ate. But, to no avail. "Well, then, she must be getting sick," we thought. "Nope. Been too long." And out the window went the "getting sick" theory.

Then, I noticed that she seemed to cough more after brushing her teeth. "Can she be allergic to the toothpaste?" Although her allergist admitted it possible, she had never had that complaint from a parent before. So... 4 months, 3 phonecalls, 2 refunds and 1 new toothpaste later, my theory is confirmed. My little angel is allergic to a common toothpaste ingredient - SORBITOL!

According to sci-toys.com, sorbitol is a "white, odorless, sweet-tasting powder". It is commonly derived from corn syrup and used as a sugar substitute. This was the problem with the toothpaste in question - corn syrup.

Our angel is allergic to corn and most corn by-products. This time, the reaction was difficult to identify because the allergen (sorbitol) was building up in her system over time. Consequently, it was hard to tell what was causing the coughing spells - a virus or an allergen.

Here are some recommendations for those who think you might be having a reaction to an unknown substance:
  1. Be safe and seek medical attention. Treat the symptoms if you think you are having a reaction. Seek medical advice and follow the directions that your doctors have given you to treat the symptoms you see.

  2. Follow your instincts. If you really think it is an allergy, stop using or consuming the product. We are still learning so much about food allergies and each person is so different that you must rely on your own intuition coupled with medical knowledge. You know what is happening in you or your child best.

  3. Chase the source of the allergy and research ingredients. Take your time, read labels, talk to manufacturers, use the internet, and consult your doctor. If you give up, you will not find relief nor will you eliminate other sources from your diet.

  4. Speak with manufacturers. Many manufacturers are interested in what is causing a possible reaction in their consumers. Often, they will survey your consumption, provide coupons or refunds when a consumer has reacted to their product. Also, most manufacturers are happy to research an ingredient to help you find out if something in their product might be an allergen. Manufacturers can be an allergic consumers best friend - use them!

  5. Be creative and find alternatives. There may only be one brand that doesn't use your allergen but keep looking in groceries, whole food stores, and on the internet to find what you need. Then, if you can't find it, do some research and create a substitute!

Even though we think that we have identified the cause of the toothpaste allergy, in a child with so many allergies, it is hard to really ever feel confident. Our eyes are always watching what goes into our angel and constantly reading her well-being like a barometer. For now, we have found an alternative toothpaste which we think is safe. But, we also know whether it is this hour, this day, or this week, there will be another allergen hiding and waiting to be discovered.


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  2. So am I. Particularly colgate.
    What do you use now???

  3. Right now we are trying a Tom's toothpaste for kids but beware, some of Tom's toothpastes also uses corn products. However, the company website is very good about transparency of ingredients. We also found another brand that has potential but I need to call the company before I post the brand.