Improved Solution to Chronic Hives (Urticaria): No Teflon

Stainless Steel pan instead of teflon pans (or any pan with coating)
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For many years, I have dealt with chronic urticaria. Many different triggers throughout the day would cause spots of hives, enough for others to notice and point out in slight concern. My first step was to visit the doctor to get ordered allergy tests that ultimately confirmed a slight allergy to shellfish. The doctor also prescribed a set of anti-histamines and bath soaks, and to stop eating shellfish. The anti-histamines worked, but just didn't feel like a smart long term solution. Bath soaks were great, but were honestly time consuming and required a huge use of water. I stopped eating shellfish, which sucked because I love shellfish. I eventually found that shrimp, clams, mussels, and lobsters were okay to eat, but crab was always bad. So after a couple years, I stopped anti-histamines and bath soaks, but I mentally set aside eating crab. The hives had definitely improved, but I would they would still occasionally pop out. There had to be a better solution.

Another thing I noticed is that I could commonly have chunky not-quite fully formed poop when I eat my home cooked food for lunch and dinner (usually weekdays), but it would be completely normal if I ate out at a restaurant (more common on the weekend). Some creative thinking and online searching, I found suggestions to stop using Teflon (Polytetrafluoroethylene: aka PTFE) pots and pans. The strong coating with anti-stick properties made it one of my favorite cookware around the house. I figured that as long as I didn't use ultra high heat and prevented scratches, the pots and pans were safe. Also, since the pans were naturally non-stick, I figured it would be healthier because it would require less oil. Other notes:

  • Teflon pans are an issue at 660F, well under any temperature I cook. BUT, studies show a empty pan on high heat can reach 736F on an electric burner in 3 minutes 20 seconds (more details)
  • Flaked off teflon from a pan should pass through your body, but why risk it.

After deciding to ditch my teflon pots and pans, I figured there would be new inventions for pots and pans that were non-stick, but without the downside of teflon. And though many sites online speak praises to many new brands, many other sites suggest any coating presents risk. Because of that, I went with the mantra that "simple is better". I ultimately ended up sticking with a set of old stainless steel pots and pans I already owned in kitchen pantry. I made the switch for a few months of daily cooking to verify if switching from Teflon pans to stainless steel pans would solve my hive problems. The downside is that trying to fry or scramble an egg is a new challenge, regardless of how well I coat the pan or the temperature I cook at. But that's a small sacrifice to avoid taking antihistamine drugs and/or experiencing hives.

To my surprise, removing teflon has majorly reduced the number of time I experience hives. The hives I used to get occasionally with cardio exercise is less noticeable. The improvement is so much better I'm ready to try crab again, possibly one quarter of a crab to start to experiment. My lesson learned is that teflon may be adding to the toxicity in my body that cannot be properly filtered out.

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