I like it really hot and just discovered it can kill me.
I had a wake up call today; and I was politely reminded by my very nice looking 38 year old Doc that I'm not 22 years old anymore. "The body can't rebound as quickly."
It started two days ago. A sudden sharp pain in the throat which made swallowing difficult and produced a gag reflex. Coughing followed. And I mean hard, violent, get whatever it is in my throat out sort of coughing. And just like my now deceased cat Fogge, I got it. But instead of a nasty little hairball, mine was a blood ball.
Gross. Had my beloved Peanut Butter Puffins betrayed me? I read online that others have experienced something similar after eating "crunchy" foods. Hmmmm. Since, this is the second time this has happened, I promptly made a doctor's appointment with Dr. Cyrus Torchinsky, MD, PHD and otolaryngologist -- fancy word for ears, nose and throat expert.
Dr. T. took one look at my mouth and uvula and, for lack of a better description, pitched a fit. It seems that my preference for wicked hot drinks could kill me. And, unfortunately I am not being overly dramatic. Dr. Torchinsky communicated strongly that I must STOP STOP STOP with the super hot beverages. He told me he reserves this sort of soap box lecture for his smoking patients. It's that serious.
So, if you are like me and tend to order your fat free latte "extra hot", STOP. My mouth shows clear evidence of damage and cell changes. If I don't stop with the heat, it can become cancer. It's that simple.
Here's what I found out:
- Drinking really hot beverages (158 degrees F or higher) ups the risk for throat and esophageal cancer over 8x.
- "Warm" beverages are classified as below 149 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that water boils at 212 degrees F.
- In short, drinking super hot tea, coffee and other liquid fire, damages the tissue of the mouth and throat and over time the carcinogens in food can get in and wreak cancer havoc.
- This article summarizes a recent study.
This is just one study. Dr. T listed other empirical evidence and likened my hot habit with a pack a day smoking habit. Again, "it must stop" was repeated a number of times. I've got it doc!!!!
DR. T HASN'T EVEN LOOKED AT MY THROAT YET, and I'm already quaking in my my patent green Danskos. To get a bird's eye view of my esophagus, Dr. T threaded a very long tube into my nose. (No, it really didn't hurt. Just odd.) He doesn't like what he sees. My throat is majorly inflamed, and it's more than the hot tea and coffee.
COULD YOU HAVE LARYNGOPHARYNGEAL REFLUX (LPR)? I do.
It seems that I have a "classic case" of the tongue twister, defined as the backflow of stomach contents up the esophagus and throat. Lovely. BUT, I have had NO real noticeable symptoms like heartburn, pain, etc. I guess this is quite common. But there are other symptoms aside from heartburn that characterize LPR and I have had these:
- Hoarseness (uh, I can barely talk right now)
- Difficulty swallowing food (I did have a few incidents at Souplantation where something seemed to be stuck and I gagged and coughed a ton)
- Sensation of something sticking in throat (Yep, hence the blood ball)
- Choking episodes (Sort of like above)
There are five other symptoms that I DO NOT have: clearing throat, excess throat mucous, annoying cough, coughing after lying down, heartburn/chest pain/ indigestion.
OKAY, SO WHAT IS THE UPSHOT?
I've got two things going on:
1. Hot drinks are causing lots of problems and may be exacerbating the whole LPR thing. The hot tea I had at dinner could have caused a blood blister that I then coughed up. I am now on the hot wagon.
2. LPR is a reflux disease that can also lead to all sorts of ugly stuff. This article on About.com provides a nice summary.
First, no more microwaving my coffee after I make it...to get it super hot! No more bubbling tea drinks. Just no more. It's lukewarm for me. It will take some time to get used to, but I think this is pretty easy. I will check temperatures with a thermometer to be sure.
Second, for the LPR, that is harder. Doc says try and go bland for 6 weeks. What is bland? The opposite of acidic. Avoid spicy, caffeine, citrus, raw onions, most dairy, alcohol, anything good. "Safe" foods include apples, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, beans, most protein, some dairy (feta, cream cheese), most grains, and "low fat" things.
Third, Drugs. Prilosec is recommended by my doc for a short-term healing agent. I have read a list of complaints regarding side effects...so I'm still thinking on it.
I keep thinking of The Adam Ants song, "Goody Two Shoes". I don't drink (1 glass of wine nightly is not considered "drinking"); I don't smoke; So what do I do? Apparently I drink hot beverages and eat too many berries and raw onions!! And yes, I drink coffee, but it's nearly 100% decaf and I've already cut it back from 3 cups to 1.
I guess I just have to remember I'm not 22 anymore!