Julissa Catalin was driving around one day after lunch when she suddenly felt like she couldn’t swallow. Saliva built up in her mouth as if she were about to vomit, and she had to throw her head back to force it down. Soon, it felt like her throat was closing up.
Fortunately, she was able to drive herself to a store, and her boyfriend came to take her to urgent care. Upon arrival, the nurse immediately asked her, “Are you allergic to anything?”
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Though Catalin hadn’t been diagnosed with an allergy before, she did notice that she broke out in hives after drinking orange juice or eating anything with orange flavoring. And she just remembered the chicken she ate earlier that day had been marinated in orange juice. So the doctors theorized her sensitivity had morphed into a full-blown allergy. She was given allergy medication and steroids, which gave some relief.
But a week later after she finished the medicine, she had a similar episode after drinking lemonade. So then she was told by doctors to avoid all citrus in case of acid reflux. Meanwhile, she got tested for allergies in citrus fruits and they all came back negative.
So her doctors assumed it must have been acid reflux, which she was skeptical of since she didn’t have heartburn or the taste of sour regurgitated liquid. She went on a special acid reflux diet anyway, and still found no relief, as the episodes happened again and again without rhyme or reason.
One doctor was sure she was inducing the symptoms herself and was actually just having a series of panic attacks. But Catalin didn’t even bother to fill her Xanax prescription, because she knew that couldn’t be the case.
Finally, a visit to the gastrointestinal specialist got to the root of the problem—an X-ray revealed she was actually experiencing esophageal narrowing—a condition that causes damage to the esophagus lining which causes narrowing and inflammation. And that condition caused her to experience the same symptoms one does during an allergic reaction, acid reflux, and panic attacks.
Thankfully, she was able to get a procedure to have it fixed. But how unnerving! It just goes to show that you should never stop looking for the right answer, especially when it comes to your health.
NEXT: Find out what your hair, skin, and nails reveal about your health below.
clues about health brittle hair
Broken, split hair is a symptom of Cushing's syndrome, a rare condition caused by excess cortisol. Other symptoms include high blood pressure, fatigue, and back pain.
clues about health yellow nails
When nails take on a yellowish hue, it could imply a fungal infection — or an internal issue like a lung infection, liver disease, thyroid problems, or diabetes.
clues about health dull hair
Dull, limp hair can indicate a nutritional deficiency; you could be particularly low in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and iron.
clues about health dark circles
Sure, they'll cost you extra time with your makeup concealer, but dark under-eye circles can also indicate deficiencies in your kidneys, high sugar levels in your bloodstream, or even dehydration.
clues about health feet
If the skin around your heel or the ball of your foot is dry, cracked, or flaky, it may be a warning sign of a thyroid condition — especially when accompanied by weight gain, numbness, or vision problems.
clues about health hair falling out
Thinning hair that falls out in clumps could mean hypothyroidism (especially if you're also tired, gaining weight, and have joint pain), but it can also be a sign of anemia, a deficiency in iron.
clues about your health raised skin
Patches of red, raised, irritated skin may mean you have psoriasis, which tends to flare up after age 50 and is often set off by a stressful event, like a death in the family. You may also be at risk for psoriatic arthritis and even heart disease.
clues about health dandruff
If you notice yellow or white flakes in your hair or on your shoulders, you may have seborrheic dermatitis caused by yeast on the skin or an inflammation of the skin.
clues about health cracked nails
Cracked, brittle nails can be caused by frequent cleaning and dishwashing without gloves, but it may also be a sign of hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid works too slowly.
clues about health dry skin
If you have dry, intensely itchy skin that's accompanied by fatigue or weight loss, your doctor may want to rule out more serious conditions like thyroid problems, renal disease or certain cancers.