No matter what painful condition you are living with, issues with inflammation can be common and, in turn, can add to your body’s pain level. Inflammation not only can cause fluid retention, but it also can bring on headaches, aching, brain fog, and even subluxations for those living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, just to name a few negative effects. Since inflammation is so common with pain conditions, there are some simple actions you can consider implementing.

As you enjoy your food and ingest prescribed medications daily, did you know that something you are ingesting for the right reason might be creating havoc in your body because it is not compatible with you?

Food Sensitivities

For instance, some foods, even if they are nutritious and meant to be good for the body, may not be right for your system. For years, I seemed to be reacting to food, so I began the journey to find out what the problem was. First, I started with a skin test. I was shocked when I was told everything came back normal, but I knew that just couldn’t be right. So, I went to a dietician and had a food sensitivity blood test done. The results gave me the information to change my life in a positive direction. This test identified the “good foods” that were not being metabolized correctly by my body, thus causing inflammation and a significant increase in discomfort and pain. I have to admit it wasn’t fun having to say “no” to foods I loved, but within a short time, weight from bloating was reduced, I could think again, and I felt an overall body change in the right direction. In some cases, avoiding the identified foods for a certain period of time—sometimes six weeks to six months, depending on the severity level of your sensitivity—can mean successful reintroduction of the food into your diet. 

Reactions to Medications

Another irritant to the body can be an unknown sensitivity to certain medications. Medications are often an important part of a pain treatment plan. However, as with foods, you could also be dealing with medication sensitivity.

A surgeon once educated me about testing that can be done to identify what is and isn’t safe for your body, through a simple swab in the mouth. The hospital I always went to for surgeries was at a loss as to how to help me with pain control; I seemed to be reacting to everything they tried each time I was there. As many with pain will understand, reacting to medication only complicates the recovery and increases pain. With a major surgery to face, my surgeon suggested we find out what was compatible with my system, since negative reactions to medications had been a part of my life for as long as I could recall.

A drug sensitivity test that, at the time, was covered by my insurance, revealed that I was not able to metabolize many common over-the-counter or prescription painkillers. It showed only two medications I was able to utilize for pain. With this new information, my medical providers knew which medications were best for me, making the surgery successful when it came to controlling my pain.

The beauty of using this tool, a DNA map of your body, is that it can be used for life. Each time a new medication is considered, it can be determined in advance whether this medication is compatible for you and, if not, what can be substituted. What a dream it would be if all babies had this test from the beginning of life to prevent the reactions many of us have had to live through. Imagine taking medication and knowing it is good for YOU and will not cause inflammation or increase the discomfort that raises your pain level.

Candida infection

A third thing that you may want to consider, if you suspect that you are dealing with inflammation and increased pain, is the issue of candida. We all have yeast in our system, but taking in too much sugar or carbohydrates can feed and increase the yeast. A candida or fungal infection can contribute to difficulties in losing weight. This condition creates foul gas, sugar cravings, brain fog, and a general increase in discomfort and increase of pain.

If this sounds like you, then consider candida as the possible culprit. Your primary doctor can order a blood test to confirm the condition and prescribe medication to help eliminate the infection. When I take this medication, I immediately experience weight loss and improvement in my overall well-being, including a clearer head!

I hope these three suggestions—addressing possible food and drug sensitivities and candida—will help those reading this to help improve the quality of their life. If you have another suggestion, please share it with us! We need to pay it forward and help each other to improve the quality of our lives.

May life be kind to you… 

–by Ellen Lenox Smith

About the Author:

Ellen Lenox Smith has emerged as a leading voice for patients living with pain. Currently, Ellen serves as Co-Director of Medical Cannabis Advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation and is a member of its Board of Directors. She is also active with the EDS RI support group.

Prior to patient advocacy, Ellen was a longtime middle school social studies teacher. She has been married for 50 years and is the proud mother of four adult children and grandmother to five grandchildren. She also is the author of two books, an organic gardener, and was previously a master swimmer and high school swim coach.

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