Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cystic Fibrosis and the common cold

It was the pineapple.  Pineapple is one of the most excruciatingly delightful things God made way back when God made all the foods we know, and so sometimes I would peel a whole pineapple and eat it.  All.  At once.

A few years ago, I got very ill, and after about a week, learned that pineapple poisoning had started it.  I read that in the past, women would pop unripe pineapples to induce abortion.  In my case the baby was, a scary giant object from my digestive tract.  After which I was very weak.  After which I had a cold and sore throat.  After which I had too many Strepsils, which caused vomiting.  After which I had all types of illness and strangeness for days before I figured out what the original cause had been from typing all those symptoms in my little phone and studying like crazy.

So generally I wouldn't eat a whole unripe pineapple nowadays.

I caught a bad cold / sneezy ticklish flu last week.  The weather's been odd; it's been hot out, and I got in air-conditioned situations once or twice, which is usually a bad idea for me.  I was exposed to people with bad colds too.  But I still expected to escape catching it.
For many years I caught colds a lot - practically the only illness I get often, but I've been relatively strong and healthy for years, probably because my life is quite stress-free, change-free, the weather's tropical, and I can usually afford the time to rest, eat, and do all those self-care things when a cold seems to be near.  Oh, and I live in a CAVE.
 
I ended up catching it, but now I think back and see that it was pineapple that "caused" this.  Again I ate the whole thing.  It was very sweet but very acid, and even while I was eating it I felt the danger, it was too acid in my mouth and in my chest/tummy.
Now after the whole disequilibrium experience (I suppose that's what a cold is, sort of), I studied a bit about what happens - mucus overproduction/oversecretion, ... and the cardinal example of that experience, the genetic disorder called CF (Cystic Fibrosis).  It's helping me understand my health.  For instance, some exercise would be nice for moving the mucus along, but I never really do that.  Saline (salt water) and inhaling steam does good things for relaxing the hyper-secretion thing.  I've been hungry and tired all the time because nutrient absorption is broken down when the mucus linings (they're not only in your respiratory tract) are acting crazy.  So I've been attracted to slightly salty, fatty, meaty things (I usually have like zero of these in my diet) and even felt a need to drink sweet stuff and sugar (again, usually not my thing.)

I was feeling lazy about writing this, and yeah, I could have done a better job writing...with relevant links and such.  My main point is that to understand what's up with influenza/flu/colds/catarrh, we can draw from CF research.
For me, I now understand a bit better the connection between acidic food (vs salt) and dehydration (used to get dehydrated a lot too) and the mucus response which may lead to a cold.  

By the way, if the genetics of CF are so similar to those of sickle cell (autosomal recessive, as they call it in biology), then I wonder what, if any, benefits caused CF to be retained in the population.  That is, are carriers (people with one inherited CF gene, not two) in some way at an advantage, say because they withstand cold/dry/mountain/winter better with their mucous-y superpower?  As you know, sickle-cell is common in the tropics and in terms of genetics (natural selection) it's a thing that exists because carriers have some immunity to malaria...then in a fraction of those cases, the sickle cell genes are doubled and the "too much of a good thing" is a bad thing, i.e. the disease/syndrome.   Just as SS is a black-people thing, CF is a white-people disease. 

For me, I need heat and humidity.
Explains why I was withering even in Southern California.  Someday, I may try living there again, but a half-hour coastwards, the real Los Angeles, with better humidity.  Of course I loved New Orleans too.  Florida is nice weather, but too many ass-holes live there lol, it's really a pity. 
Explains why I do well provided I do NOT have air conditioning...I go to great lengths to avoid an a/c lifestyle.
Explains why Lagos rocks! but not Jos.
Why I'm afraid of white-people countries :)
Why Washington DC was actually better for me, weather-wise, than Cali.
I feel sure that another possibility would be to be a big eater, lol, to be so fat that there's always some sort of reserve (of salts and fats) to balance out the environment lol.  But nah, I'm not willing to do that.  Puerto Rico, anyone? 

I feel good now.  My ear tickles a bit, and the cold is not 100% gone, maybe 96 lol.  I hope after this goes away that long term my susceptibility actually really goes away :) like it did before.  And hope I can resist the temptation to overdo it with pineapple in future.  Like, I should try new excitements -  tomato!  carrots!

One last thing, some years ago I learned that blowing heavily when you have a cold only makes EVERYTHING worse.  I seem to have forgotten that this time, and got back to my highly-entertaining (or annoying) elephant trumpet noises.  Which explains why my ear got infected too.  So yeah, if you have a cold, don't blow so hard, it creates all these pressure differentials so you just fill up with more mucus and probably fill up new spaces - like in your ears - with more mucus.  

One more thing - I tried to avoid this bit for modesty's sake, but hey we're medical people so let's say it.  About the mucus linings in 'za other room' ... how they respond to diet - they do!, and how their hyperactivity is correlated (positively) with the propensity to get a runny nose. 

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3 comments:

t said...

less likely reason for natural selection to support Cystic Fibrosis, say there's an important pollutant / aerosol which CF carriers are protected against. more likely it's the weather though, like i said, mucus lining protecting from the cold/dry weather.

incidentally, i can never remember the words cystic fibrosis. 'multiple sclerosis' - but it's a very different disease - usually comes to my mind instead.

if you liked this post, you may also like some sickle-cell blog post i wrote here years ago

t said...

so i need to eat differently for a while. guess what i did today? inflamed everything again by chugging a little bottle (maybe 1/4 liter) of pineapple-watermelon juice. As before, I knew maybe 1/4 of the way in that it wasn't right, but I couldn't stop till I had drained the bottle.
A few days ago I was going to eat an orange, but the early signals from the first bite were so bad, I had to throw the thing in the bin immediately.
After the juice problem today, I tried to neutralize the mess (from my throat to my gut) with ice-cream, normal food (rice), but it's not enough. I'll be lucky not to get a full-blown sore-throat / cold / catarrh cycle out of this. Throat feels sore maybe swollen, tummy is unhappy a bit, my left ear itches a bit...
Luckily I can sleeeeeep off this phase.

True story: I went to the beach in late April and got tan-lines through the calves that have taken over a half-year to disappear. Serious.
Hope the sensitive throat doesn't take that long to heal.

In other news, I've been procrastinating like mad. All I do is read the news. Is this a phase? Do I just love to read stuff?

mlg said...

I've been turning the heater up and laying at an incline (as opposed to flat on the bed) for weeks now and like you, I've somehow avoided the multiple colds I would normally have had by now. I even started preaching the good news to some friends: Just turn the heat up your nose when you go to bed; it's like inhaling steam. To which they said, "Steam?" And I said yes, or hot air, or whatever :-) It works.

Love you, sis!