Wednesday, October 01, 2014

World Urticaria Day

 Today has been World Urticaria Day. There's a lot of world days, weeks and months out there - but this one is welcome. It used to be called "hives", which makes it sound like something that people were familiar with. Now people don't talk about it very much - so it needed a bit of publicity.

My worst experience was when I suffered the kind that you get from fleas. But if you're anything like me you won't have great skin.

More details of the day here:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Coleslaw indigestion

 I've eaten coleslaw for quite some time and have eaten supermarket coleslaw provided it doesn't advertise itself as containing onions.

After all it is basically cabbage and carrot and both are ok so far as I'm concerned. It can be made with mayonnaise and cream. Mayonnaise is a bit iffy, as it is usually vinegar and egg. Egg is fine of course, if not better than fine. Vinegar is not - but I assume the quantities are so low it can't cause harm.

So it's better home-made with the ingredients controlled. Some commercial coleslaw contains onion, which I never eat unless its shallott. Theoretically onion should not cause too much harm because the lists all say its low in salicylate - but not entirely free of it.

About a week ago we had a meal of supermarket coleslaw and supermarket cooked chicken, which was meant to be plain chicken.

That night I had such severe indigestion I nearly dialled 111. That's the National Health Service non-emergency out of hours number. I was advised to call it by one of those questionnaires you fill in for NHS Choices, the questionnaire it flashes up if you say you have pains in your chest. Yes, you can imagine they take no chances.

Yes this was real indigestion, under the rib cage, not in the bowels, crippling pain, rising up the right side of the rib cage. No question of it being a heart attack but I'd worry about problems like stomach ulcer.

Anyway it lasted no longer than 12 hours. I went for  a swim the next day and that seemed to burn it off.

Today we had the same coleslaw with our meal. It is branded as being cabbage and carrot coleslaw. I don't see why they should add onion as I would have thought it would simply make it more expensive to prepare. And, yes, now I have stomach pains coming and going, just as I write. Not as severe as last time, I hope, but the night is young.

It's not even obvious why indigestion of this kind should be caused by  salicylate - except that we know that salicylate causes a reaction in whatever tissue it comes into contact with. Could that cause ulcer?

And I come back to the issue that it may not even be salicylate. A doctor friend of mine once suggested that other syndromes, specifically sulphite (sulfite), might cause similar reactions. I'm not even fully convinced that there isn't some gluten intolerance. Remember I originally thought it was a wheat allergy and abstained from wheat products for six months until tests proved it was not.

Ah well, I'm going to have to break the news I can't eat coleslaw.

* I've now checked the small print ingredients and it does contain onion together with white wine vinegar.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Season's Greetings!

 And if you're celebrating Christmas I hope you get turkey stuffed with leek and shallot and basted in soy sauce, served with rich red cabbage and peas. For pudding may you have Christmas pud made from chopped Golden Delicious and peeled pear. Failing that, may someone who loves you rustle up a trifle made from chocolate log roll, custard and whisky whipped into a rich, pure cream. All this followed by a platter of Brie, Camembert and other cheeses untainted by herbs or fruit. And may your Christmas presents, if you are of age, include the best whisky, including a savoury Jura or Jack Daniels to enrich your lunch. If you are under age, I wish you a great many chocolate bars, none of them with nuts or fruit and not so dark chocolate you feel the caffeine content. Happy Christmas!


Friday, May 10, 2013

Peppers and tomatoes

 I've got a feeling this piece of research into Parkinson's and tomatoes and peppers may miss the point.
Let me declare an interest - a close relative has just died from Parkinson's; and then a second interest, a very personal one. There has been evidence in the past linking Parkinson's to a history of allergic conditions. I'm a little worried.

The researchers here set out to show that tomatoes and peppers help to "protect" against Parkinson's. Their thesis is that these two fruits contain nicotine - which is thought to protect against Parkinson's. So they find that people who get Parkinson's don't eat many tomatoes and peppers.

As it happens my relative did not eat many tomatoes. Neither do I, nor many peppers - because I am allergic to them. My relative never had an allergy diagnosed - but he did not like tomatoes and I watched once when he ate one. Shortly after he reached for his hanky as his nose began running. Yes, I am concerned we may share genes.

This piece of research may be what's known as a failure of causation. It may well be that tomatoes and peppers do not "protect" against Parkinson's but help cause it - but because they cause it through allergic reactions, susceptible people actively avoid them, thereby eating less of the substance. Or it may be a bit of both.

What continues to be frustrating is the way a whole range of medical research simply fails to display joined up thinking. There are some people who recognise that allergic syndromes cause general inflammation - but they are few and far between. I know there are some in medicine who recognise that super-specialisation is the wrong way forward - it means that researchers and doctors simply fail to make connections. 


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Euro-pollen map

 A Euro-pollen map from the University of Vienna could eventually be helpful if you are travelling the continent over the next few months. However you may need to use a translator as it is in German.

There is an app available at covering several countries.

Details at[tt_news]=3354&cHash=ab4e3683aa


Sunday, April 07, 2013

World Allergy Week

 There's been no need to keep ice on the go in the fridge as our tap water has come through at freezing temperatures for the last two months.

Meanwhile here is news of World Allergy Week, starting tomorrow. It's all about food allergies so it will be interesting to see if anyone discusses salicylate.

Milwaukee, WI. The World Allergy Organization (WAO) will host its annual World Allergy Week from 8-14 April, 2013, together with its 93 national Member Societies, to address the topic of “Food Allergy – A Rising Global Health Problem,” and its growing burden on children.

Globally, 220-250 million people may suffer from food allergy [1], and the occurrence of food allergies continues to rise in both developed and developing countries, especially in children. This year WAO plans to highlight the need for greater awareness and understanding of food allergy as well as the exchange of ideas and collaboration in order to address a variety of safety and quality-of-life issues related to the care of patients with food sensitivity. Activities will include international teleconferences with experts presenting information about global food allergy concerns and answering questions immediately afterward.

According to Professor Ruby Pawankar, President of the World Allergy Organization, “There are problems that need to be addressed in many countries throughout the world such as the lack of awareness of food allergies, lack of standardized national anaphylaxis action plans for food allergy, limited or no access to adrenaline autoinjectors, and the lack of food labeling laws. Moreover, some countries have standardized action plans but no ready access to autoinjectors; others have autoinjectors but no standardized action plans. These circumstances can be improved with the distribution of information and resources for physicians, patients, parents, schools, health ministries, and throughout communities and by a call to action to
policy makers.”

“As in previous years, many of the national Member Societies of WAO will organize local events and programs around food allergy issues that specifically affect their communities,” said Professor Motohiro Ebisawa, WAO Board of Director and Chair of the Communications Council. WAO is providing information about food allergy online at and will track activities of its Member Societies. “Everyone with an interest in food allergy can participate by contacting their national allergy societies and food allergy advocacy groups,” said Professor Ebisawa. A list of organizations is also available on the website.
[1] Fiocchi A, Sampson HA et al. “Food Allergy”, Section 2.5 in WAO White Book on Allergy, Editors: R Pawankar, GW Canonica, ST Holgate, RF
Lockey (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: World Allergy Organization, 2011), pp 47-53.

About the World Allergy Organization
The World Allergy Organization (WAO) is an international alliance of 93 regional and national allergy, asthma and immunology societies. Through
collaboration with its Member Societies WAO provides a wide range of educational and outreach programs, symposia and lectureships to allergists
and clinical immunologists around the world and conducts initiatives related to clinical practice, service provision, and physical training in order to
better understand and address the challenges facing allergy and immunology professionals worldwide. For more information, visit


Thursday, January 17, 2013


 Three, small, fillings at the dentist today - the first I've had for a long time.

That's not bad considering I haven't used toothpaste for six years. But three fillings in one day is too many and expensive also.

So I've resolved to do better.This will be my belated New Year resolution. I had a think about things and realised I'm not drinking as much water as before. I used to alternate it with my half-pints of decaf coffee and I've stopped doing it. I just drink decaf by the pint.

So even though I was eating a lot of cheap chocolate the water, which is fluoridated here, must have swilled my mouth out.

And here's how I'm going to make this happen. We are going to keep the freezer stocked with ice cubes, just like we do on holiday. This will have another great spin-off. For while instant decaf does nothing to keep me awake when I'm working, iced water surely will.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kill or cure!

Sometimes silence here simply means I haven't got a clue what the h... is happening.

So I thought I shook off my cold in December by drinking redbush tea. And I kept to my resolution not to drink wine over Christmas. Quite a lot of whisky was consumed.

And then I came out of Christmas with a chronic stuffy nose. I thought maybe I had overdone the redbush tea and small things seemed to be causing reactions. For instance at the weekend I had nachos at the cinema but I did have them with cheese sauce. That definitely made my throat a little sore.

Now I am not so convinced. I woke up the other day and my left wrist was sore. In fact today my throat is sore on the left side and so is my eye and my leg is starting to feel sore. I am feeling hard done by because it is exactly why I didn't touch wine over Christmas to avoid these sort of symptoms.

Nevertheless I am beginning to think the problem is a lingering virus, maybe even .... flu. In fact I am feeling quite run down. This may be aggravated by the British freeze. Temperatures plunging to at least minus three have caused power cuts and put our central heating off. No wonder I'm a little shivery.

So I'm back on the redbush tea. Kill or cure!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas cold

It arrived suddenly on Sunday - a torrent of cold. It's my second bad cold in two years so maybe my immune system's getting better!

I've had the pleasure of drinking redbush tea all week to give the immune system a kick. It's not obviously worked. The cold has simply gone through the phases of a bad cold - a nose that doesn't stop running, a lost voice and attempts to get a cough going. Tonight it seems to be trying to get a cough and a fever going.

The tea must have been well past it's sell-by date. I soon finished the half-a-dozen sachets in the box and went out to get another one.

So has the redbush tea made things better or worse? It could have aggravated the runny nose and sore throat for all I know, like a combined cold and hay fever.

If you remember my theory from last autumn, the allergic reactions seem to give a broad response which see off most viral attacks early. If the virus gets past this, it may cause problems. You could call it a salicylate-resistant virus. Because the fine-tuned parts of the immune system don't have to deal with many viruses, they are less prepared.

I haven't helped myself by not getting enough sleep. Pre-Christmas stress. I've no plans to drink wine to see it off - as I have in the past. That's a medicine with side-effects and usually leaves me with stiff joints for weeks.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


It arrived at the weekend. Actually the real problem is with the digestive system but I don't like to talk about that. That may be why I have not posted much in the last few weeks.

The rule of thumb is that raw food hits the mouth and throat and you can tell almost instantly if there is a problem. Big offenders are onions and pepper and they tend to crop up in plain English cooking, such as shepherd or cottage pies, or in coleslaw. Somebody served me a delicious shepherd's pie the other day, no pepper, but stuffed with onions and as a result my throat seized up and my nose ran - but it lasted no more than a few hours.

My skin is generally fine, clear as a bell. The Splodge has stayed away, even in spite of the occasional indulgence with Stilton and other blue cheeses. And there have been no rashes. That's because essentially I stick to a low-salicylate diet and mostly to a zero salicylate diet.

But if the food is processed or highly prepared it slips past the throat into the digestive system. That's happening all the time. I may take a pill if I'm having somebody else's food and I may think I get away with it. But the truth is that in spite of keeping pretty fit I've got serious inflammation around the abdomen - I'm pussy-footing around descriptions - and all that goes with it.

Well that caught up with me at the weekend when a muscle at the back of the abdomen pulled. It's taking a while to heal. There were all sorts of reasons but you cannot kid me that the state of my digestive system is not part of it