Are Pulmonary Oedema triggers a myth?

Well, last night I put the last of my Pulmonary Oedema food triggers to the test.

For those who missed previous posts on the subject, Pulmonary Oedema is a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs, and is potentially fatal. It damned near killed me in August last year and has settled in as a chronic condition which usually strikes at around 04.00. The Mayo Clinic covers it in depth.

Over the last few months I’d identified various foods which would trigger an attack, by far the worst being chocolate. That’s what put me in hospital (pigging out on Jaffa Cakes), and other forms of chocolate have done much the same, but less severely. All fatty foods have triggered attacks too, as has Croft Original sherry.

So, a couple of weeks ago I set out to put these triggers to a more formal test, deliberately eating them and noting the results. I’ve been reluctant to test chocolate, though, as it seems to be the most dangerous but, yesterday, I bought myself a box of Ferrero Rocher and dug in (I love the things, but hate nuts – go figure).

I also, in the course of the day, had a couple of hot cross buns slathered with a dairy spread.

On past performance, by the early hours of this morning, I should have been coughing blood in extravagant amounts. In the event, I slept right through to my meds alarm at 06.00. Sadly that also functions as a pain alarm and the change of posture (I needed to pee as well), drove me out of bed to dose with Oramorph and seek refuge in my wheelchair (I’ll come back to that shortly).

Anyway, the last untested trigger has failed to work. This doesn’t mean I’ve been needlessly alarmist (hey, my life’s at stake, I’ll be as alarmist as I like!), but it does mean that the P.O. attacks have probably been, if not totally, then at least mainly, random.

That’s good and bad news.

The good news is that I can eat what I like without the fear of drowning in my own bodily fluids (and, for me, there are few things that inspire more terror than internal bleeding), the bad news, of course, is that I now have no idea when P.O. will strike.

If you’ve ever inhaled liquid instead of swallowing it (and who hasn’t done that at some point?), that’s how P.O. feels – except that it goes on for hours or even days, and much of the liquid is blood. Knowing it’s avoidable is reassuring, but that’s no longer the case.

Why does it happen, then? I have no idea, but food triggers are well known though it seems to be that salty foods are the problem, which I’ve not found, though I do try to keep my salt intake low.

Inhaling acid reflux can also be a cause and I suspect that’s a major one in my case, which is why I take PPI drugs (Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, and the like). I take 20mg of the former before bed to deal with any overnight problems, and the same again at 06.00 to cushion my Hydrocortisone.

Inhaling acid reflux usually wakes me as it’s acutely painful, though I suppose it’s possible to inhale a small amount without waking.

The biggie for me, though, is that P.O. is a major feature of right-side heart failure, something with which I was diagnosed as far back as 1996 and I do NOT accept the current theory that because I have Stage 3 COPD I don’t have heart failure. It’s bullshit – COPD can cause heart failure, and if I had it in 1996 I still have it now, it doesn’t go away.

Anyway, that’s where I am at the moment. None of my food trigger theories hold water, but P.O. attacks are still happening** so all I can do now is keep notes of what I eat, what drugs I take other than my usual (if any), and inspect my bedding for signs of nocturnal puking.

**On average every week to 10 days.

There’s one aspect of my diet I haven’t looked into – coffee. Shortly before my admission to hospital in August I’d bought a new espresso machine so I must keep an eye on my coffee consumption v. P.O. attacks, and if that, too, fails to pan out, I’ll just have to accept that they are random and try not to worry about something that’s outside of my control.

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2 thoughts on “Are Pulmonary Oedema triggers a myth?

    • Oh, I shall! Though last night chocolate, eaten at bedtime, set off a fairly minor bout of PO. Eating it during the day seems to be safe, though.

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