Dear Joan, thanks for your books and this site, which my dietitian put me onto. I have established that salicylates and many amines have a negative impact on me and see many of my symptoms described here on the blog. Which is reassuring somehow that I am not alone. However one I do not see mentioned and which disturbs me the most (perhaps because no one else has mentioned it) is an odd congestion I get in the upper neck and throat and face. The sensation is like my throat is swelling and the only thing (other than time) that makes it pass is Panadol – or relives it, is burping. Sometimes I massage my neck – specifically the left side – which causes me to burp a lot more. When it is very bad it feels like the congestion is filling the back of my nasal passages ears and eyes and that my eyeballs are under pressure from behind. I have to sleep propped up on pillows or even sometimes sitting up on the couch to ease the sensations of pressure. Have you heard of this symptom at all? (I have been to see two throat specialists who claim I am fine – from their perspective anyway!
Dear Fiona, I am very sympathetic about your symptoms. Thinking about them means we look at the fact that even though you feel your very severe symptoms in your neck and head, it is burping that solves them. So it could have something to do with what is happening in your oesophagus. It would be wise for you to first discuss the problem with your GP who may refer you to a gastroenterologist in relation to reflux, because oesophageal pain can be felt up in throat, shoulder and neck. As always remember you can have a medical problem happening at the same time as food chemical sensitivity. You have at least learnt that your throat is OK. I have certainly met others whose pain affects their neck and into their head.
There are some actions you can take re diet after discussion with your doctor. The main one is to use a fizzy antacid such as Citravescent or Ural in water as these produce burping. Discuss this with your doctor first to avoid the fizzy drink increasing the problems. A few of my patients have what feels like bad chest pain as a food sensitivity reaction, and using fizzy antacids help them burp and feel better. If using the fizzy antacid produces some burps in you, note the directions on the bottle with regard to using more. Some of my patients report feeling as if food is still stuck in the oesophagus after having a very dense food such as cheesecake, or shortbread biscuits, when they have no problem with plain [lower fat] biscuits. It doesn’t seem to be just the fat content as they can eat hot chips with no problem. Dense meals such as pasta in thick sauce can also hurt in some. The trick here is to have many sips of water with the meal. And eating frequent small meals instead of only three, but larger meals, is another suggestion to try. The fact that you ease the sensation by sleeping propped up also makes it sound like reflux. One of the most annoying aspects of having severe unusual symptoms is that you have to persist in seeing all the specialists related to your symptoms until you find one who may have heard of similar symptoms in their particular specialty area. Unfortunately sometimes it is not wise to mention your food sensitivity at first as specialists are busy with all that is involved in their area, including some scary things you hope they won’t find. But do mention it later so they may be supportive of the next person who mentions diet. As you manage your diet, do keep a diet diary so you can see how your own symptoms relate to your food challenges and single food trials. You can use all the hints about what makes food reactions vary in Tolerating Troublesome Foods, as well as hints on careful food trials to minimise your distressing symptoms. I wish you well. Joan