Got the plague. Left me with allergies.
February 11, 2010 6:55 PM   Subscribe

What turns your tongue black underneath & leaves you with a dozen new allergies afterwards? Assume it's not Pepto Bismol or yeast.

Prior to December I had very normal health; no notably problematic allergies to anything. Then I got sick. I can't remember if I got a cough first, or if it was the fever w/ chills & bone/body ache (no stomach/throat symptoms). Either way, they came one after the other, and since I have a small child who was also sick, I wrote it off as small-child-has-a-cold-itis. About two days after the chills, I attended a group luncheon at work. The day after the lunch, my tongue started aching. I looked in the mirror, and the top looked fine, but the bottom had what looked like huge blood blisters, and the two veinlike things that run up it were *vibrantly* red. Soon the entire tongue was completely black. My whole mouth felt swollen by the end of the day

I probably should have gone to the doctor at that point, but I chalked it up to "something weird in the food, you're not dead and the swelling seems to have stopped; you'll probably live." It lasted for maybe 4 days with some fluctuation in the degree of discoloration and swelling.

I finally went to the doctor about 7 days after that. The tongue had gone back to normal (although the doctor said that he could still see evidence of swelling in my mouth), but the cough was getting worse & worse & worse: Fits where my lungs felt like they were filling up with bubbles. Things had started to squeak & rumble when I breathed, and when I was coughing, I felt like I could bearly stop enough to pull in a breath. But as I told the doctor, the only over-the-counter thing that actually seemed to help was Benadryl, not cough syrups. Plus, the nose would pour out watery stuff instead of snot when the coughing was really bad.

We both concluded "cold," but he took the Benadryl comment into account: I was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics, cough syrup, and a prescription-strength anti-histamine.

It is now 2 months later. The antibiotics brought the whistling under control. The cough syrup was a complete waste of money: Revolting lemon stuff I only took twice and both times I swore to my honey that it was making things worse, not better. The anti-histamine has been getting me through the day ever since, but the coughing hasn't stopped.

Empiric observation eventually got me to "allergies." Today I was tested, and the following items were rated as "do not eat" by the allergist: Milk, Soy, Corn, Beef, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Carrots, Rice, Bananas, Apples, Oranges and Tea. Not one of those things has bothered me in the past, but the milk & potatoes & Oranges I'd already figured out. Throw in the Tea, and you've got a great description of how come all my home cold-care methods failed me.

Not one doctor saw my tongue turn black. Three have declined to speculate on what happened to it. One said, "well it must have been a yeast overgrowth." Every description I've seen of yeast overgrowth has said something about "Hairy," which it was definitely not (slimy perhaps, or maybe even just tongue-like, but NOT hairy). Also, this one doctor couldn't explain why it would be the bottom of the tongue: The top looked fine. Maybe a little white, but that's what tongues do when you're sick, no?

So what's up with the tongue? And how can I have developed a dozen or so allergies seemingly overnight? (The environmental allergen test is tomorrow: I already know cologne & dust will come up positive...) Are the two related? Just one of those weird coincidences that will happen? Will this die down in time? The doctor said it was a bit early to get into that last one, but heck, I'd like to know what other people have experienced. Thank you!
posted by Ys to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't happen to get a tick bite recently, did you?
posted by Ery at 7:06 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Did you take Pepto-Bismol the night before your tongue turned black?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:25 AM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: Ery: VERY interesting. No tick bites that I know of, but endless cases of chiggers in my outdoor job. And at the luncheon, the person next to me had a crab dish. She gave me her bread, which could have had traces of crab on it. I don't like crab, so it would have to have been indirect, if that were the origin. And yes, I was having a steak. Also, she threw up within 15 minutes of leaving the restaurant. We were apparently alone in having odd symptoms after the meal. I think I'll drag that article in to the allergist's.
Light Fantastic: Thanks, but no Pepto-Bismol intake. Plus, I've had that, so I know what it looks like.
Other thoughts?
posted by Ys at 12:50 AM on February 12, 2010

What else did they allergy test you for? Nine of the 12 are high to moderate potassium foods.
posted by jwells at 6:04 AM on February 12, 2010

Black hairy tongue? I don't know anything about it, just that it exists and looks revolting. I think it's associated with smoking and antibiotic use.
posted by electroboy at 7:04 AM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: electroboy: No hair on tongue. None whatsoever; just blue-black bruised nasticorledness. And the antibiotics came later.
jwells: I rated "no worries" for glycerin, egg, wheat, yeast, peanut, sugar, pork, chicken, flounder, onion, garlic, lettuce, chocolate, coffee, cola, crab & shrimp. Today I was tested for molds & pollens (very disappointed they didn't test for fragrance type things.) Molds, roaches & dust mites definitely a problem. A couple common allergen weeds & a handful of tree pollens to watch out for. Not nearly as dramatic a reaction as i got from foodstuffs.
posted by Ys at 3:38 PM on February 12, 2010

Response by poster: Three months, two powerful antibiotics, a course of prednisone, several nasal rinses, a mountain of cough syrup, a handful of anti-hystamines, and one case of thrush later, we have positively determined that adjusting my diet reduces the coughing drastically. Reduces --not eliminates. (But YAY, I'm no longer wondering if I'm going to die from this.)

A pulmonologist is now on the case. He's having lab work done on the crap from my lungs, while putting me a variety of replacement allergy meds. He was delighted to see my show-and-tell item, which turned out to be "castings" (as in plaster cast) of my airways. Apparently it's packing down to the point where the phlegm or bacteria or whatever it is that's down there is taking the shape of my actual bronchial tubes, which I then get to hack out. Phenomenally itchy process, getting them to come up. On the other hand, I feel like this doctor is taking me seriously, instead of just writing me off as an allergy whiner.
posted by Ys at 7:37 PM on March 14, 2010

Response by poster: Never got a diagnosis, but 2 months on a combination of Asthmanex + Singulaire, and my symptoms have gradually faded. I eat normally, cough a little in the mornings, and can go a week or more without medication at a time, with only occasional bad days.
posted by Ys at 5:48 PM on June 23, 2010

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