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Sulphite Awareness Month - post 1.
A collapsed lung, severe chronic sinusitis, fresh fruit and the sulphite connection!
Imagine starting a new job and suddenly falling sick with unexplained allergies and illness that almost kills you? Well believe it or not this is what happened to Mandy!
Mandy, like many of us, is a health conscious individual that is into healthy eating, in fact she is a proclaimed raw foodist and in this situation it nearly killed her.
Luckily, thanks to her intuition, Mandy discovered that her fresh fruit was adulterated with sulphites and was making her sick.
I was so touched by her story that it inspired me to do all I could to create awareness about sulphites so I came up with the idea of “Sulphite Awareness Month” and have decided to give away my book for free. Go here to claim your copy now www.thesulphiteconnection.com/freebook.html
I asked if Mandy would be kind enough to share her story to alert others who might be in a simular situation. Here is her story in her own words.
My Sulphite Experience
I was employed as a security officer for a large organisation and in August 2012. I was posted to a remote location north of Perth, Western Australia, along with over 5000 other workers.
I am mostly a raw foodist so the food on offer for me was quite limited. Whole fruit was apples everyday, oranges most days and bananas occasionally. The other fruit options (rockmelon, honeydew melon pineapple and sometimes orange) and salad options (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, carrot, capsicum and cucumber) are prepared by a catering company.
I did an initial 3 weeks as my first swing and by about mid way through I was suffering with allergy symptoms that were causing some distress. I was due to fly to Peru on the 12th September and would be away from work for 3 weeks. On the morning of the 12th my friend urged me to go to the Dr for a script for something to relive my symptoms so as my holiday was not ruined.
I went to a local Dr down the road (not my usual GP - you need to plan a couple of weeks ahead to get into that practice!), who diagnosed allergic rhinitis and prescribed some steroid sprays for my nose and lungs. I was ok on my holiday and the drugs helped but I did not get ‘cured’
Three weeks later I went back to work, having finished the drugs. The symptoms returned and seemed to get worse. Excessive mucus production with wheezing and sneezing were the main symptoms. I went to the local medic in early October with difficulty breathing, wheezing, chest tightness and nasal congestion and walked away with a handful of steroid treatments.
After finishing these my symptoms returned even worse than before. More frequent and more severe. I went to my own GP later that month. She told me that I was worse because I wasn’t using the nasal spray properly. More steroid sprays. I may have had my first course or oral steroids from this appointment.
After all these drugs where finished I was worse again. I filled the repeats and carried on with the drugs. By the end of the year they weren’t helping much and I was beginning to become quite debilitated. Symptoms included itchy wet ears, pressure in the ears, feeling of being off balance as well as the coughing, wheezing and excessive and continual mucus production.
In February I attended a course in Perth during my R&R week. By the end of that week I could hardly breathe although I did not have any wheezing to speak of. I could barely walk any distance and decided to go back to the Dr as I was due to fly back to work on the Monday.
I was lucky to get the last appointment in my practice for the Saturday although it was not with my Dr. I begged for help in finding out what was wrong. I said I couldn’t just keep getting steroids. I was getting sicker and sicker and needed to find out why. He was very sympathetic, ordered a chest xray and sinus scan, gave me more steroids and a few days off work. I returned to the practice a few days later with the results. Diagnosis was a collapsed right middle lung and severe chronic sinusitis and I was given the rest of my swing off and a referral to an ENT (ear nose throat) specialist.
I made an appointment with the specialist for early April and wondered how I was going to survive til then. I went back to work at the end of February and proceeded to get steadily worse. I had a few more courses of oral steroids and was taking huge amounts of sprays and antihistamine everyday.
These were giving minimal relief at best but at least it was something. By now I was taking 3 large boxes of tissues to work and buying another 3 during my 2 week swing. I was a perpetual mucus producing machine and was expelling constantly from my lungs and nose. I was exhausted. I lost my appetite, sense of taste and smell and wasn’t getting much sleep.
I went to the specialist in April who told me I needed surgery on my nose and sinuses. I would have had the surgery that day if it was offered I was so sick and desperate by now. The specialist told me the surgery would relive the symptoms and that my problem was caused by allergies. He didn’t offer to help find out what those allergies were tho. I would have to wait 11 weeks for surgery and I devastated. I just did not know how I would last that long and decided I would have to just take it one day at a time.
My next R&R two weeks later I was really sick. My symptoms were now extreme. I felt that I was almost anaphylactic on a couple of occasions. I was having what I called ‘sinus events’ where I was severely affected for up to 12 hours with coughing, wheezing, fully blocked nose, mucus that I could not blow out, excessive heat radiating from my nose across my face and heart palpitations.
I also had a very strong taste of acetone in my mouth during these events. I would blow and blow and occasionally would blow out a small ball of mucus that was extremely hot and would expel with great force. It gave relief for a few seconds but then all heat and pressure would build again. My ears would by screeching and the pressure there was huge. I couldn’t hear properly. The itchiness in my ears would drive me crazy. And I would be sweating like I was in a sauna.
While lying in bed on yet another course of oral steroids and feeling nearly dead I started to consider what I could possibly be allergic to. The only allergies I had ever had were to Pethadine - a pain relief drug, and Amoxyl – an antibiotic.
Then I recalled a conversation I had with a chef at work in the early hours of one morning. He was sitting in a smoking area near one of the kitchens so I sat down for a chat. We just casually discussed his job and the food available at this work place. He told me never to eat the fresh prepared food that came up from Perth. He told me it was covered in ‘crap’ and was really bad for us. After I recalled that, I suddenly saw the correlation between when I would consume the pineapple rockmelon preparation and the more severe of my reaction – ie the ’events’. I realised on the days I chose the tinned fruit options my symptoms were less severe.
Worse, as I had lost my appetite I would often only eat a small amount of this fruit thinking that I had to eat something, never realising I was eating the very thing that was making me sick!
I also remembered that often I would experience a bubbling or fizzing in my mouth when eating that fruit. I had discussed this with colleagues who reported similar and also odd tastes. I immediately grabbed my ipad and began researching preservatives used in fresh fruit and vegetables.
That’s when I discovered sulphites.
I decided to eliminate all the fresh food at work the following week and see if that made any difference. It was tough as I am mostly a raw foodist and sometimes I gagged on the cooked food. I also ceased all medication I was taking and kept a meticulous diary of what I ate, what time I ate it and what reaction, if any I had.
Well I didn’t have another allergic reaction but I continued to expel huge and disgusting quantities of mucus.
The mucus production began to reduce with in a couple of days and steadily and continually lessened over two weeks to practically nothing, and what there was completely colourless. My fitness began to improve and I could now walk 5 flights of stairs. At the beginning of that fortnight I couldn’t manage one.
I was now sleeping all night and that was a great relief. Clearly something in the raw food - likely to be sulphites, had caused an extreme and severe allergic reaction that came close to killing me.
I saw my Dr who was sceptical about my diagnosis and thought it was a ‘coincidence’ and that I was recovering because of the last course of oral steroids. I saw the work Dr who pretty much said the same and suggested it may be something else but couldn’t offer an example of the ‘something.’
I took a sample of the fruit back to Perth with me, hoping to get it tested to see what was in it. I had my sample tested and got the attached results back;
Comments 05/06/2013 PINEAPPLE, ORANGE & ROCKMELON
The sample submitted consisted of a plastic tub containing pieces of fruit in juice. No original packaging or date code information was included. The fruit comprised of pineapple, orange and rockmelon pieces. The sample tested positive for the following - Chlorine <0.1 mg/I, Sulphur Dioxide <5 mg/kg.
The project managing company fobbed me off for 6 weeks until I finally sent an email telling them how wrong it was that they were ignoring me. They then emailed the info attached.
The freshness of fruit and vegetables is maintained by temperature and pH control according to industry standards and guidelines. Commonly used industry methods are employed – chilled chlorinated water with a concentration of around 100 parts per million (ppm) is used to kill pathogenic organisms and sodium metabisulphite solution (less than 50ppm) is used to wash potatoes and prevent blackening and discolouration.
Residues of either product dissipates quite readily. All fruit and vegetables are prepared following strict Food Safe/HACCP principles are subject to monitoring by industry.
I am grateful I discovered the cause before I had the gruesome surgery. Ironically when I saw specialist for my pre op appointment on June 20th and told him what had happened he didn’t bat an eye lid and told me that he was also allergic to sulphites!!
Surgery cancelled. Advice – “keep away from sulphites and you shouldn’t have to see me again”. I am horrified that I could have had that surgery ($6,000) gone back to work and fallen straight back into the allergy roundabout.
My life has been changed in a big way. I am now very sensitive to anything containing sulphites and have mild to moderate reactions taking around 24 hours to recover from. (Thank goodness no serious ‘events’ since I stopped consuming the fruit products provided at work). Worse is the undeclared sulphites which are also in over the counter medications, and I have to take great care in what I choose to eat and drink.
(I still haven’t recovered my sense of taste or smell)
LIST OF SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH SULPHITE EXPOSURE IN FRESH FRUIT ALLERGIES/ILLNESS
Blocked nose, Running nose, Excessive mucus production, Continuous mucus production, Extreme pressure across bridge of nose radiating outward. Tenderness across bridge of nose radiating outward, Heat across bridge of nose radiating outward, Feeling of pressure and swelling inside face behind eyes and nose, Feeling of extreme heat inside face behind eyes and nose, Redness across cheeks, Loss of sense of taste, Loss of sense of smell, Squealing, popping screeching in ears, Extreme itchiness in ears, High pressure in ears, Muffled hearing, Constant wetness in ears, Loss of balance, Tilting over one side –mostly left side, Walking over to one side - mostly left, Coughing–(and associated incontinence), Wheezing, Unable to breath - heavy feeling in lungs, Breathlessness, Difficulty breathing, Itchy neck, Deflated right lung, Severe sinus ‘events’ - lasting up to 12 hours, Strong ‘taste’ of acetone during ‘events’, Loss of appetite, Heart palpitations, Fatigue, Loss of sleep, Loss of fitness, Loss of strength, Loss of stamina, Extreme dry mouth, Excessive sweating, Dehydration, Disrupted menstrual cycles, Unable to socialize, Embarrassment, Thrush, Split nails after April course of Prednisilone, Insomnia during April course of Prednisilone (2-3 hrs sleep per night).
Whoa, what did you think about that story? How many people do you think are sick because of undeclared and hidden sulphites in food like glucose syrup and high fructose corn syrup and maize starch etc, and have no idea what is causing it?
Leave your comments below, share with me what you think, I am interested to know.
Also remember to let your friends know that everything is free (including my book) for the sulphite awareness month during August only!
Next time I will be posting a video on "how to" read labeling and revealing how wide spread sulphite adulteration has become...