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FOOD ALLERGIES: How To Save Your Life - Part Two

Updated on January 30, 2011


Kung Fu Panda Cake
Kung Fu Panda Cake

A few weeks later at mom’s home in Fort Pierce after another bout of tongue swelling and visit to the local emergency room, I saw a board certified allergist for blood tests.  His nurse called two weeks later to tell me the tests were normal and I needn’t go back.  Right.  It’s normal for your tongue to swell up big enough to fill your mouth.  Meanwhile, my face had swollen three times at weekly intervals, but I had some prednisone they’d given me at the emergency rooms and the facial swelling didn’t debilitate me as had the tongue swelling.  However, I looked like a chipmunk..
    In late October I returned to the mountains to close the cabin for the winter. 
    I’ve always been allergic to bees and wasps.  Spring and fall I suffer from hay fever.  House-hunting in 1991, I’d received a wasp sting on the ear at one house I was checking out.  I’d headed for the hospital emergency room and was treated by the doctor who later became my personal physician.
    November 13th, back in the mountains: my birthday.  To celebrate, I went out for Chinese food and woke at midnight with my tongue swollen on the right side.  Swallowed a prednisone tablet, grabbed a bowl of ice cubes, and headed for the hospital.  The emergency room nurse, filling out forms, said, “Oh, it’s your birthday.  Happy Birthday!”  I said, “Thang you very muh.”  I spent the rest of the night in the emergency room.  Since it was time for my annual physical I assured them I’d see my regular doctor the next day.
    I related the sad tale to my doctor, finishing with, “I’ve looked up ‘tongue swelling’ on the internet but can’t find anything.”  He said, “You have ‘angioedema’.  Look that up.”  He told me one treatment was steroids, which he didn’t favor, and suggested I stick to antihistamines.  He said, “At the first sign of swelling, break a Benedryl capsule between your teeth so the powder coats your tongue.  And tell your dentist.  Avoid tongue trauma.”
    Bingo!  My small town doctor had diagnosed me where the allergist had failed.  I researched angioedema and its common causes.  Mine was a result of bingeing on aspirin -- as a sleep aid and pain reliever -- and peppermint candy-- a favorite nighttime snack.  I’d thought peppermint was healthy -- low in fat and cholesterol -- but discovered that like many other spices, it’s chock full of natural salicylates. 
    I’m on a low salicylate diet now.  No more tongue or facial swelling.  No more upset stomach or intestinal cramps in the middle of the night.  As a side benefit I’ve even lost a little weight!


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