In equally annoying health news, I went to an allergist today and described my reactions to perfumes and flavorings. Her conclusion is that I'm essentially getting contact dermatitis on my tongue and throat when I inhale/ingest things I'm sensitive to. I noted that the problem had gotten a lot worse since I started taking the Zoloft; at first I thought it was related to the Zoloft-induced dry mouth, but that side effect has mostly gone away. However, upon Googling "contact dermatitis artificial flavor", I find this note in a case study of a woman who developed an allergic reaction to artificial cinnamon:
Contact allergies are common in the skin but rare in the mouth due to the protective role of saliva against the accumulation of allergens
It's true that my mouth is still dry; it's just not dry enough to really bother me most of the time. In addition, the Zoloft continues to cause a bit of acid reflux, which is probably making my throat more sensitive to other irritants. Hooray! Bodies are fun.
Conclusion: once Readercon is over, plus a week to make sure there's no post-Readercon fuckery this year, I'm going to get my doctor and therapist's approval to go off the Zoloft. It's definitely been helpful, but I'm feeling a lot more settled, and most of my anxiety these days is related to--surprise!--being scared of food because I don't know when it's going to make my throat feel like it's swelling up. I keep being glad to have the Zoloft to help me deal with that, but it would be even better to not need to deal with it. In the meantime, lots and lots of peppermint candy (and a search for lemon or other citrus candies that have no artificial flavors or sweeteners, since citrus is naturally mouthwatering), and probably going back to taking Pepcid with the Zoloft.
Also conclusion: the allergist was not entirely useless, but pretty nearly. I mentioned the Zoloft dry mouth and she didn't say "It might be worth taking a closer look at that". She expressed surprise that Claritin appeared to help with the reaction but offered no suggestions for alternatives. Bah.
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