Greetings. I'm a 36 year old male with no significant health history other than being allergic to penicillin.
Last May I awoke around midnight with severe abdominal pain. My face became bright red and my arms went numb. My heart raced faster than I have ever felt it outside of running. My wife called the ambulance but by the time they got there I had had a massive bowel movement and was trending back towards normal.
It's November and I've spent months having tests done: EKG, ECG, TSH, T3, T4, stress test, upper GI, CAT scan, gastric emptying study and an electro physiology study. Everything came back normal. I've had eight of these episides. Each lasts 20 minutes roughly. My heart gets up to 140 bpm, my hands get numb, I'm extremely stuffed up, and I have to breathe deeply and slowly. BP runs 180-190 over 90 (roughly) as the episode peaks. Each time I end up having a massive bowel movement and then everything starts to subside. I shiver for about another half an hour afterwards, then I just feel kinda worn out.
The symptoms have made me very anxious and my internist at first was not alarmed but now is leaning towards panic attacks. I've taken clonazapam as soon as I start to flush and it doesn't do anything to blunt the episodes. I"m also on 50mg metoprolol.
My wife and I have noticed that these episodes seem to come 2-4 hours after having red meat. Not always, but sometimes. We often buy the organic variety, but even then we only eat red meat a couple times per month so a pattern has been hard to identify. You hear a lot about allergic reactions to fish, venom, etc. but not much about this. I am wondering if the antibiotics that may be present in some of the meat I ingest are toxic and my body is going into emergency mode to try and expel it.
I just wanted to get some input on this if I could; it's been very stressful and the added anxiety can really get out of hand if I'm not careful.
Hi, it certainly sounds like you're allergic to something in the beef, & you might have given us a clue on solving it by saying you are allergic to penicillin
The beef industry in the U.S. is a heavy user of antibiotics, including penicillin. They use the stuff because they do industrial beef farming, where the cattle are crowded into gigantic factory farms & fed corn to fatten them up quickly. The problem with that is, corn is not what a cow's digestive system is designed to digest, they are adapted to eat grasses & wild grains by nature, and corn is not usually in their natural diet.
The problem with them digesting corn is, in the cow's 4 digestive 'tract' system, the corn can end up being partially or incompletely digested, which typically allows the corn to ferment in one of the 'stomachs' & allows for collection of bacteria unfriendly to a cow's digestive system. Typically this is E. coli, usually a strain that is not native to that cow, and then it tends to infect their stomach, become an abscess, or worse starts spreading throughout their system. Infected cows can get what we would call septicemia, a blood infection, or worse peritonitis, which is a general abdominal infection with the bacteria from the E. coli infections. To combat these possible deadly outcomes for the cow, the beef industry routinely give their cattle antibiotics to keep these bacterial infections at bay.
The problem with giving antibiotics to cattle are pretty much the same as giving them to people: antibiotics tend to kill off the 'good' bacteria in the gut as well as the harmful bacteria causing the infection the doctors prescribe the antibiotics to a patient to kill off, thereby saving the person from dying from the bad bacteria infection. So antibiotics are sort of a necessary evil, that need to be taken in cases of infection by some pretty nasty bugs. The downside to them is, they mess up the digestive system for a while, leaving us with diarrhea until our guts fill back up again with the friendly bacteria our colons need to be able to digest what we eat.
So let's take a look at what the beef industry is doing here: they are feeding cattle food they would not naturally eat, that is difficult for them to digest, & which tend to cause them to incur infections in their digestive tract, leading to infections which can sicken them or kill them fairly quickly - and so their solution to the almost inevitable bacterial infections the cattle develop is to feed the cattle antibiotics, which suppress the bad & good bacteria in the cow's digestive tract, thereby weakening the cattle's ability to digest food & inevitably making the cow more prone to developing further infections when fed the corn diet they don't usually eat!
The further problem with all this is, when the cattle are slaughtered most of them contain remnants of the antibiotics in the beef produced from them, so you may not know this, but when you are eating beef in most cases you are unintentionally eating some kind of antibiotic the cow was fed in the days before it was slaughtered.
The fact that your gut is blowing up almost like clockwork after eating beef is your clue as to what is going on here. My guess is you are being exposed to penicillin in the beef you are eating (& other antibiotics besides penicillin & most antibiotics are chemically similar to penicillin, so you better be careful or you could end up allergic to more then just penicillin) & you are just reacting violently to the allergic reaction as you described it.
You know, there are alternatives to beef ;-)
I almost never eat beef & I do very well. In fact I eat a rice, beans & corn diet daily to make sure I get a full veggie method of obtaining the necessary amino acids to make protein each day. I'm a chili freak, love the stuff, but I usually put a boiled half chicken breast in the pot of chili I cook each week. The chicken ends up being flavor mostly rather then a source of protein for me. If I leave the chicken out of the chili I function fine, as if I eat meat each day just off the rice-beans-corn alone. Like I say, the chicken I add to my chili tends to work merely as an extra flavor in the ingredients :-)
The advantage to this kind of eating is, plants sort of ignore antibiotics like penicillin & it is a waste of time to give them to agricultural type veggie plants anyway, so there's no problem there. The big downside is eating commercially grown veggies, which tend to be pesticide coated, but there are ways to clean beans so they are fairly pesticide free & the best practice for all veggies is to wash, wash, wash them well in advance. And of course there are the more expensive organic veggies :-)
But if you are a beef lover you might try some of the grass fed 'free range' beef at Whole Foods, or similar upscale markets. I'm not very good with beef, from celiac disease, but I've tried their grass fed stuff, & I seemed to do ok with it. But really you need organic beef, not the commercial stuff, which is going to be the most likely to be antibiotic infected before you eat it :-/
But protein is protein imo. When you look at how it is put together, every species on the planet uses essentially the same amino acid schemes to assemble proteins. The trick for we humans is to get the essential amino acids we need from the protein we eat. It is a neat trick to do to be able to get the same amino acids from veggies as you would get from a steak from veggies as simple as rice beans & corn :-) of course eggs are the 'perfect' source of protein & amino acids, that all other food sources are measured by, and if you aren't allergic to eggs, I think 1 egg a day is enough to keep you with the amino acids you need each day. Of course there aren't many calories in a single egg a day, so you need to eat other foods besides an egg each day, not to mention there are very little carbohydrates in the things. But you get the idea, in cases of amino acid deficiency, if the person is not allergic to eggs, the quickest way to get them back to good health is feed them eggs :-)
But I'm bad with fish, allergic to the stuff, so that's out for me. But for you, I don't know. What I do know is, there are alternatives to beef :-)
Ok I hope this helps, sorry I got wordy with it, good luck :-)
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.