I've been unwell a couple of times this year. Not just a cold, a little more than that. GP visits that resulted in extra tests of varying sorts over a period of time while waiting to have them done. No result. Nice to know there is nothing wrong with your insides but also disconcerting to find there is no explanation for why you are feeling so crap.
Well another cold recently & then starting to feel once more as I did months ago resulting in the testing stuff. Just soldiering on as we must with stomach aches & pains... just getting worse...
What's changed? What have I done differently? What have I eaten differently?
Had a bad cough/cold again. Cough medicine. Cough lozenges.
Read cough medicine bottle.
What an eye opener. Do you ever read those things? Properly? Not just the nice fluffy bits on the front where they say they are sugar free, strawberry flavoured, have immunity boosters which are great for your kids etc etc.....???
Well I had a nice surprise. The nice grown up medicine I was using which did a great job for my cough contained 14.7g SORBITOL per 60mls. 60 mls is the max they recommended an adult take.
The warning along with Sorbitol was that it may have a laxative effect or may cause diarrhea. OK. Well not quite but in parts...
I am not one to go to Doctor Google ever as it will scare me to death with self diagnosis, but in this instance I did Google Sorbitol. Far out! Not only the laxative effect, but also to the extent of abdominal pain, bloating, gas & nausea..... Well, that explains a lot. Just there. I think I just found the cause of my sickness...
But then I go further. It is used in many diet style products & sugar free products. When I have a cough, Mint Fishermans Friends cough lozenges are great to relieve the cough in bed while sleeping. Well they contain it too... The Airwaves menthol gum that I like to chew to help clear my head when I have a cold has it too. Oh beauty... I have been lining my insides with this stuff...
Further investigation shows that the nice children's variety of my cough medicine has even more Sorbitol in it than the adult version. Remember I said the adult one had 14.7g. Well the kids ones has 18.9g per 60 mls... The intake for a child per day is much less but still with warning. Yes my boys liked the strawberry flavour but initially I thought nothing of the complaints of a tummy ache before school. But a bit later on when the smallest one is bending down doing something odd & explaining that his tummy hurts across the middle I realise it's the 3 small doses of this cough mixture that I have given him.
None of this is proven by any expert.... I am no expert. I am just a mother trying to identify what has caused my sickness & is now causing my boys pain... The only thing that changed is the medicine.
Looking further through the cupboard I find that Children's Panadol also contains this stuff.... but at least we are only talking 135mg of Sorbitol & 371mg of Maltitol (which has same effects as the other). These are milligrams... the other medicines were talking GRAMS... Big difference.
At the chemist I was trying to find alternatives. The staff member was very helpful in finding low or no Sorbitol. It's difficult. We found another with sorbitol levels measured in milligrams only. I told her the other one I had was in grams & she was surprised. We are now trying some drops which contain none.
It doesn't end there though... The lovely little product Sorbitol is found in so many things.
Shopping the other day I was looking at something else. BJ can't take nuts or eggs to school as other kids are allergic. Fine. I don't buy some stuff with "may contain traces of nuts" labels for school. But this time I went to read it to see if there were any that didn't include that. Actually I didn't get as far as looking for that information as I got stuck on the bit that said HUMECTANT (Sorbitol). I got my phone out & made a note for myself with that word HUMECTANT. Oh boy, here we go again... Yep, more stuff that makes us all feel like we are eating something nice & "lunchbox friendly". Can you believe the packaging I was reading this on was Uncle Toby's Muesli bars? You know those nice healthy treats that every second child has in their lunch? I didn't go further on those things but will start reading more labels of that type of product if I happen to be in the mood to buy more packaged rubbish.
When I was a kid we used to get daily doses of fluoride, vitamin AD & vitamin C tablets. I used to tell my mother that those puny little fluoride tablets made me feel sick in the stomach. She didn't believe me of course. (but as a mother why would she right before school?) It's only come out in the last 10 or so years that is was in fact 100% true... See Mum, told you so! So having been in that position I can't discount now the complaints of my boys when they have a possible issue like it.
So there you go. Take from this what you will but be aware of those cold & flu medicines first off. I sure don't want to make my children sicker with something that I was expecting only to help them feel better & get well.