Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Water, water everywhere...

I am really not shaking off the rashes on my arms and legs. They're concentrated around the knees and elbows but seem to be spreading and montelukast seems to be having hardly any impact. The next step must be to purge all chocolate and all "real" decaf coffee. I'm pretty certain that decaf instant is harmless but the stuff that comes out of percolator machines usually feels lethal and leads to blurred eyesight. I'm getting use to the idea that whenever I  have a meal my nose starts running. That surely cannot be right however - for instance today I was able to buy a baguette with ham and cheese - aah and then I followed it with a small bar of dairy chocolate and drank it with a cup of real decaf coffee. That's the problem - it's going to be water, water everywhere and nary a drop to drink!


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Some light relief

...and for some light relief the British tabloid newspaper the Sun had a St George's day feature on why English food is good for your health.

I'm really not convinced that a portion of chips can have more vitamin C than an apple - but I suppose it's probably as good a way as any to eat potatoes when you can't eat the skins.

Of course if you have salicylate hypersensitivity, the traditional English diet is the best diet to eat.
Sadly that doesn't include Spotty Dick (that's a sponge pudding dotted with raisins and currants) but does include lots of boiled cabbage, peas and spinach along with liver, which is incredibly nutritious.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Trying to catch a cold

I met somebody with a cold today so I stood close to see if I could catch the virus. This is because when I had cold and flu bugs during the winter my tolerance of the allergy was improved massively - and I was able to drink wine, redbush tea and "try" stuff etc.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Running out of montelukast

Suddenly noticed I've pretty well run out of montelukast. I'm getting flare-ups around the elbows and knees - it may be linked by the variable temperatures at the moment, warm days and cold nights. I've fired off an email repeat prescription request to my GP. That's a good thing about the NHS. Problem is I don't know when I will get a chance to collect it - so I could be back to anti-histamines tomorrow...


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring fever!

Things have only gone from bad to worse over the last week. Yesterday I went for a drive in the country and my arms, bare in the sunshine, flared up with a spreading rash. And I started sneezing and weeping from my left eye. I had really tried for several days to keep away from problem substances although I did have small glass of Scotch on Friday night.

I wanted to top up my montelukast with an anti-histamine overnight but found I had run out.

It's interesting the way I was so tolerant over the Christmas period - apparently because of  cold and flu viruses - and yet at this time of year I'm finding it all difficult.

I've noted in the past that even if  there is no pollen allergy, there may be a problem with a kind of pseudo-hay fever caused by hedge trimmings, grass mowings etc getting into circulation - that is to say it's not the pollen but the vegetable matter itself that's a problem.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Singapore chow mien

My skin's just about clearing up now after a disastrous outing on Monday night. Having taken a vow of abstention on Monday morning after the weekend excesses, I stuck to it.

Sadly I had to attend a meal at one of those buffet restaurants where they serve dishes of the world. I tried. I drank water only.

And I managed to fill a plate with spaghetti, lettuce and mozarella cheese. Then wandering around I saw some plain prawns so I added those. Next thing I knew I was being pursued by an Indonesian chef who told me I needed to get my meal cooked. "No spices" I said. "Spices?" he said. "No spices" I said.

Into a wok went my meal and an incredibly rhythmic form of cooking ensued. So far as I could tell all he was adding was some kind of oil.

Then I tried to eat it. It was delicious - just like Singapore chow mien which I used to love. Hot and juicy. After a few bites I realised I should not be eating it, not at all. So I went to fill the plate again - sadly they had not topped up the bowl of spaghetti and I did not dare filch any prawns again.

I took an anti-histamine before going to bed, another montelukast in the morning and an anti-histamine the following night. I hate anti-histamines - they have all sorts of side-effects. My skin, already hypersensitive from the weekend, stayed flared up pretty well until today. It's still quite spotty but not very red.


Low in vitamins?

There's another odd story today about allergies and diet.Actually it's about asthma and that really sums up the issue.

The story says that people with asthma are low in vitamins, especially A and C. The implication is that people with asthma are aggravating their problem with poor diet. The medical word used is "causal" and it's used cautiously but it is there.

Now it's difficult to get beneath this finding as it's not original research but a summary of other people's research. That's fine but it's the nature of the link that is a problem. I think there's an insight that can be added to this and it comes from the sheer invisibility of salicylate hypersensitivity. People with this problem, ie Samter's Triad, are said to make up as many as 20 per cent of those with severe asthma.

So if you are SH (let's use an abbrevation for salicylate hypersensitivity) you are on an incredibly restricted diet. You can get round it to some extent by eating lots of fish - but your fruit and vegetables will be predominantly pale green and yellow and leafy. So is it a wonder that vitamin levels are low?

It seems astounding that expert researchers have missed this point! Yes, Dr Jo Leonardi-Bee, the finding is probably 'clinically relevant' but because people with SH need to work hard to put together a healthy diet. If you don't like bananas, you don't like fish or you don't like cabbage, it's going to be really hard work.

PS Found a great link whilst researching this. The disturbing news is that about one third of people with SH develop nasal polyps. What does this mean?


 PS Here's some examples of this nonsense today from supposedly respectable news organisations:

Eat your greens if you want to avoid asthma - Independent
 Vitamin deficiency asthma 'link' -BBC

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fish pasta sauce

 I promised to list all the recipes I've put together and then discovered I had never posted some of them.

So here is a simple and quick fish-based pasta sauce:

start cooking your pasta

  • chop white cabbage and leek;
  • stir fry in saucepan until white cabbage starts to brown;
  •  add tin of fish - sardines or mackerel are best but tuna is manageable;
  • add parsley;
  • stir until it simmers;
  • add milk, also yoghurt, cream or cheese if you wish;
  • simmer and stir until pasta is ready.



Monday, April 13, 2009


It may have been the rhubarb of course. We found ourselves in a National Trust cafe on Saturday and they were serving a delicious creamy cheese-cake with rhubarb in a side dish. I could not resist it - cheese cake is usually off limits.

Then I looked at the rhubarb and could not remember whether it was on any lists. So I reasoned that rhubarb is like a leafy vegetable and leafy vegetables are mostly all right - lettuce, cabbage, spinach, sprouts, cauliflower but not broccoli. Not sure about rocket, the subject of another recent post, although I generally eat it without harm. I think I need to find my lists...

So I took a spoonful of rhubarb thinking of all the rhubarb fools it would allow me to eat. I don't think it was all right - my tongue swelled briefly - and I did not finish it.


Easter abuse

After a weekend of self-abuse I've woken up with bright red spots and itching on my arm-pits and behind my knees and a very unhappy tummy. I've taken a montelukast and a vow of abstinence to try and calm things down.

It may have been the white wine or the Scotch whisky. I was  given a bar of dark chocolate for Easter. Not only have I vowed not to eat the stuff I've gone off it anyway - but it's hard to tell people that chocolate is now not really okay. Anyway as the day wore on I could not resist it and ate a square - along with a number of chocolate mini-eggs etc. I think the food has generally been okay - we've eaten in all weekend. There was a great fish pie on Friday night but after that it was red meat all the way. That doesn't help as it's rich in omega-6. Then for Easter Sunday I had a special trifle, made with bananas and whisky. Terrific! But Scotch whisky of course.  Ah well!


Friday, April 10, 2009

Does omega-3 work?

An disturbing report today suggests that taking omega-3 oils  - ie fish oil - is no good for treating allergy.Actually it does not say treating,  it says preventing.

That's a big difference. And I even tracked down the original article to try to make sense of it. Because my experience is that getting fish and other high omega-3 oils, eg rapeseed (or canola to Americans), into the diet makes all the difference.

It turns out the researchers  looked almost entirely at studies involving pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers and new-born babies. So it was very much about prevention. I'd still like to know whether these studies are looking for diagnosed allergies or only for symptoms such as eczema and asthma. It's a big difference because salicylate hypersensitivity is not a "proper" allergy and can't be diagnosed by a simple test (apart from the Imperial Leather test - not recommended for babies).

So that's all right.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Anaphylaxis, shock and the epipen

When I started out I was prescribed an epipen and faithfully carried it with me everywhere. I still have it, although I think it is expired, but I no longer carry it.

What I don't know - and cannot find out - is how serious the risk of anaphylaxis is. My thoughts are prompted by today's troubling news that hospital admissions and deaths from anaphylactic shock have doubled in Britain.

It's good to see that someone has taken the trouble to dig out the figures and also to do something about it. That apparently includes trying to find out what lies behind it. Now if you go to the Anaphylaxis Campaign it's pretty clear that the main problem is with peanut allergies. So is the problem that, in spite of all the warnings, peanuts are being tucked into all sorts of foods? The statistics suggest not for they show big increases in reactions across a number of categories.

Now the GP was quite right to give me an epipen at the outset. My mouth, tongue and throat were swelling and we didn't know what the allergy is. It also seems pretty clear now that salicylate hypersensitivity is not like peanut allergy - certainly not for me. But I may be wrong. As I've reported recently, a small dose of pepper can cause my throat to swell, my tongue to burn and my voice to go hoarse. Yet in general the problems seem to accumulate steadily. Some people call this anaphylaxis but not anaphylactic shock.

If I've got everything under control I don't go straight to a bad reaction - things just pile up over a couple of days. So it doesn't seem likely I will go into shock, which seems to be caused by very fast, extreme reactions. Perhaps if I inadvertently took aspirin it might happen.

Does anybody know? Is there any experience of shock caused by salicylate allergy? If so, I'd better get the epipen renewed.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rocket allergies

 This headline caught my eye. It reminded me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Sadly it got changed later:

Sneezing mice could reveal what has caused allergies to rocket

Monday, April 06, 2009

Recipe ideas

I think it's time I pulled together some of the eating ideas I've developed over the last three years. Coming up...a list of salicylate free, healthy recipes!