Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

Violent reaction to sulphites

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I’ve had a few off-days since I started failsafe, after eating things containing amines or salicylates.

With the exception of chocolate, amine reactions are usually pretty fast and often clear within a few hours, and are specific enough to identify (palpatations/racing heart/sleeplessness = tyramine, rashes = histamine/serotonin, hunger = serotonin, happy-high=serotonin, depression/anger = tyramine/MSG). Saying that, I’m currently experiencing a hangover histamine/salicylate reaction – some pretty nasty itchiness and urticaria – to a slice of pineapple I ate yesterday evening! Chocolate, on the other hand, produces extended bouts of depression and anger, and more chocolate cravings.

Salicylate reactions seem to produce ANY of the above symptoms, plus a whole load more (like arthritic joint-clicking, a back that cracks and hurts, bloating, PMS, ear aches) and often hang over into the next day or more. When I started the diet it took me weeks to clear salicylates out of my body and to get to the point where I can observe specific reactions to foods. Most usually salicylates cause irritability.

Smells (volatile organic compounds or VOCs) also cause irritability and urticaria, in fact, there are certain shops with chemical smells that I know if I go inside, I can guarantee I’ll come out feeling annoyed about everything. Driving and inhaling exhaust fumes also makes me irritable. You inhale more exhaust fumes driving in a car than you do as a pedestrian. The VOC reactions are usually fairly short-lived (which is probably dose-related) and I’ll have cleared them inside a couple of hours.

Sue Dengate says there’s pretty much no point in testing additives if you’re sensitive to amines and salicylates, because in all probability you’ll react to them. How much I’d react to additives now I’m “clean”, I didn’t know until I tried them.

Last weekend we went out for a meal as it was a friend’s birthday. I decided I wasn’t going to be a food-fascist about eating any additives (I don’t punish myself for eating bad stuff – my body does that for me). I had half a glass of champagne, a couple of olives, some prawns and some smoked fish, and everything else was failsafe. Now, I’ve tried smoked fish before and not reacted particularly severely. The thing that was different about these foods was that most of them contained the dreaded sulphite preservatives. Champagne, probably the olives, the prawns, and possibly the smoked fish.

In “Fed Up With Asthma”, Sue Dengate describes how sulphite reactions often tend to be delayed until the next day, and how they affect the majority of asthmatics quite violently.

Two or three hours after eating we headed back to the hotel. On the way back I started to have problems breathing. I stopped being able to breathe through my nose and had to breathe through my mouth, and my chest got very tight. I had asthma as a child. I haven’t had it for years, with the exception of a period three or four years ago when I regularly went swimming and inhaled lots of nasty chloramines – something I actually discovered at the time and stopped swimming – and stopped having a problem – as a result. I didn’t have a proper asthma attack, though I coughed a bit and had difficulty sleeping.

Breathing through your mouth instead of your nose makes asthma worse because air inhaled through the nose is mixed with nitric oxide (a vasodilator) before it enters the lungs, and a nitric oxide deficiency leads to further hypertension and constriction of the airways (this is how the underdeveloped facial structures and mouth-breathing that WAPF are always lecturing about is linked to the surge in asthma in recent times). I believe the only reason I eventually got to sleep was because I clamped my mouth shut and forced myself to breathe through my nose until I calmed down.

The next day I can only describe my face as beetroot-coloured. Red, red, red. Before I went on failsafe I was quite worried I was developing rosacea (to go with my dermatitis), because there were so many times when my face just seemed to be really flushed, hot, and sensitive, and I was permanently a little bit pink. My face hasn’t looked like this since I started the diet. The other amazing thing was that my face had been totally clear of any sign of dermatitis/eczema/rash the night before, and when I woke up I had a defined pink patch and a couple of big acne-like papules. The doctor has prescribed me something effective for the dermatitis, but I’ve noticed whenever I eat something off-diet, it’s like two steps back again. I can delude myself that I’m “cured” until I eat something off-diet. My skin responds more to diet than to antibiotics. Anyway, I was quite excited by the red face because I have a friend who has rosacea who I wanted to show my face to, but we didn’t get to meet up with him.

My partner, who “does not” have food sensitivities – gets cracking knee joints when he eats spicy foods high in salicylates, and I’ve noticed before that he gets irritable the day after having sulphites in beer or other foods. Well, we were both irritable that morning. I had urticaria too, and I felt like I had a hangover.

I have a theory about hangovers. You see, I get “curry hangovers”. Most people drink when they have a curry, but being a supertaster, I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I don’t drink. But I get a hangover. Wine gives me terrible hangovers, even though I never drink enough to get drunk. I’m basically reacting to the food chemicals and the sulphites. I know some people who claim that organic wine and beer does not give them a hangover in the same way that the non-organic variety does, and blame hangovers on unspecified “chemicals”. I wonder how many people who get hangovers blame the alcohol when they should actually be blaming the MSG, the spices, or the sulphite additives?

Anyway, I felt horrendous. I magically gained two pounds (I swear on these occasions I must just suck fat cells out of the air because when I gain it it doesn’t come off again). My brain wouldn’t work, I was really foggy, irritable, and confused. I kept getting headaches. The last time I felt this bad was about six months ago when I went out to a local pub and ate a half pint pot of prawns. In other words, the last time I had a big dose of sulphites.

It took me a week to get over it. A WEEK! Screw the “I’m not going to be a food-fascist” approach to additives. It’s not worth it. Give me amines and salicylates any day.

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Written by alienrobotgirl

4 July, 2006 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Failsafe Diary

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