Last summer, I started having some weird reactions to food. Since writing about that first incident, I've had several others, including two in the last week. I've turned hot & red while attending crops at the scrapbook store three times now (much to the dismay of the poor owners -- still, they haven't banned me yet...!), and couple times at work too. Most of these episodes seem to begin when I'm eating -- which is why it seems reasonable to assume that I'm having an allergic reaction of some kind -- but weirdly, it has also happened a few times when I haven't been eating.
I went to see an allergist in July (the same one I saw 20 years ago) & had all the skin scratch tests done. It showed sensitivity to tomatos, carrots, chocolate (!!), apples & oats -- all foods I eat regularly without incident (although twice the reactions did occur when I was eating a pasta dish with tomato sauce). Each time it's happened, I've taken a Benadryl or two, & the symptoms generally subside within 45 minutes to an hour -- although the Benadryl always leaves me feeling horribly groggy & dehydrated. Once I went to a walk-in clinic in the office tower across the street; another time dh took me to emergency. Both times, I was much less red & starting to feel better by the time I saw a dr, although my blood pressure was elevated (but not surprisingly, considering (a) the stress & (b) the Benadryl).
Yesterday I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch (oriental glazed chicken with rice and mixed vegetables from the company cafeteria, which I've had many times before) & suddenly, without warning, it was happening again. I started feeling hot, my heart started pounding. I grabbed a mirror, & sure enough, a red flush was beginning to spread from my chin, down my neck. I checked a few minutes later, & it had spread all over my neck, up to my face and my ears.
I thought, "Oh, great..." Rummaged in my purse for Benadryl & took one (didn't want to get too groggy at work, & figured I could take a second one if the symptoms persisted). I was SO pissed off because I've had this to eat many, many times (& I like it!!) & suddenly I'm getting a reaction??
Then it hit me. Could this be, not an allergic reaction, but -- a hot flash??
I did some Googling, & what I was experiencing fit the bill -- sudden flush of heat that usually begins in the face or upper body & spreads -- check. A flushed appearance with red, blotchy skin on your face, neck and upper chest -- check. A rapid heartbeat -- check. Perspiration, sweating profusely -- ? -- Ummm, no. I do get hot & sweaty sometimes under the covers, but not in this scenario. But then, everyone's experiences are different, right?
(My mom isn't accessible right now, so I e-mailed an older, former coworker to ask about her experiences with hot flashes. She said she never had hot flashes, but generally felt warmer than most people around her most of the time -- she always wore short sleeves all through winter. We both remember our former boss constantly fanning herself & mopping her face with a Kleenex, though.)
I read that hot flashes can be triggered by food. Or stress.
The redness lasted for 30-45 minutes & gradually went away. My throat felt a little funny for awhile -- but it was mostly after the redness had reached its peak & after I took the Benadryl -- so I'm wondering if that was a side effect of the pill?
I do find myself getting hot & red sometimes, if I'm under stress, or working intently on something (under deadline), or even just listening to someone talk in our support group meeting. But it tends to be more gradual -- what I've been experiencing lately seems to come on very suddenly, & often (but not always) when I'm eating.
I'm not saying ALL these episodes I've been having have been hot flashes instead of allergic reactions -- but maybe at least some of them have been? (Especially since it has happened once or twice when I haven't even eaten anything in hours.)
I'm seeing my dr next week for a blood pressure check & I'm going to mention it to him then. And maybe call the allergist I saw last summer. I'm seeing my gyn for my annual checkup next month too & will ask him then.
I know I'm a few years older than some of you -- I'm 48 (so it's not unrealistic for me to be having hot flashes...!) -- but if you've had hot flashes, does this sound like it could be one to you? What's the experience been like for you?