It’s Candle Smoke Allergy, Hillary

It's candle smoke allergy, HillaryHillary Clinton’s debilitating allergy attacks and recent hospitalization for pneumonia fit the pattern of a strong sensitivity to candle smoke. The violent coughing attacks, bloodshot eyes (click the image for a better look) shortness of breath, and even dizziness and nearly falling down, can all be the result of exposure to candle smoke. And Hillary must be encountering candle smoke at nearly every dinner and banquet on her campaign trail. If you care about her and her chances to become president, then you will pass this post along until it reaches her or someone close enough to her to tell her its message.

Hillary knows she is suffering from a strong allergy, but apparently she does not know the exact source of her problem. It is not allergy season, after all. It is campaign season. It is a time of travel and dining at restaurants and banquet halls. And candles are waiting on every table. If Hillary were to insist that no candles be burnt in her presence, then she would quickly recover her voice and strength.

sixteen candles per table!How can I be so sure candles are at the root of her problem? Two reasons. First, I took my medical research training at one of the top ranked medical schools in this nation, Cornell Med. Second, I suffer from candle smoke allergies myself and know just how debilitating they can be. A single evening spent at a restaurant or banquet where candles are burnt, and I am racked by strong allergy symptoms for four days. After that I recover just like Hillary has stated, saying her allergies clear up after “a few days.” But on the campaign trail, a new exposure to candle smoke comes at each dinner or banquet.

This is an unusual type of allergy, caused by inhaling the fine soot from candles (even the so-called smokeless liquid-fueled candles, which are not really smokeless at all). When fine particles of candle soot are inhaled, they contact the airways and stick to moist secretions. And then they dissolve their loads of highly toxic chemicals onto the airway surface. From there, the allergy sufferer’s immune system overreacts to the chemicals and becomes his or her own worst enemy.

Lamp oil looks harmlessThis is not your usual allergy, with immediate sneezing and sniffling symptoms. This allergy follows a completely different, more subtle, and more insidious course. Called Type IV allergy, or contact hypersensitivity, it is very slow to develop. Most often, there is no immediate reaction at all. But in the course of the next two days after exposure, a white-blood-cell mediated inflammation sets in on the skin or sensitive membranes where the candle soot landed. One characteristic of such an allergic reaction is that it does not respond well to antihistamines, the go-to drugs for most allergies. Hillary mentioned she takes antihistamines. But I know only too well that antihistamines are largely ineffectual, given that this is a Type IV, not a Type I allergic reaction.

The hallmark of candle smoke allergy is the WHERE and well as the WHEN of it. As I mentioned, it strikes two days later, not immediately. And it strikes the airways where the air is most turbulent when inhaled. That is, it strikes in the voice box, and in the swallowing area of the throat. Both these areas are narrower than other parts of the airway, causing the smoke particles to be deposited most heavily right where they can do the most harm.

The result is a very diagnostic and peculiar set of symptoms. Several days AFTER candle exposure, the sufferer experiences extremely violent fits of coughing that involve both the vocal cords and the flap of skin called the epiglottis, which keeps food from going “down the wrong pipe.” Instances of coughing often arise when the sufferer swallows food or even a drink of water. This is because the inflamed epiglottis is half-paralyzed and does not shut properly when swallowing, and the food or drink do indeed go down the wrong pipe.

Furthermore, the cough itself is incredibly persistent. And it can be so intense that it brings tears to the eyes, strains belly muscles due to the power of the cough spasms, and literally takes away the sufferer’s ability to speak.

So, what is to be done, Hillary?

First, you must make sure that no one burns candles at any stop along your campaign trail. This will take some doing, because every banquet facility puts candles on every table, and they are quite sufficient to trigger strong allergy symptoms within two days of exposure. Restaurants are no better. Almost every one puts candles on every table. So even if you have a quiet dinner on the road to escape the hectic banquet scene, you will be exposed to a dose of soot that will wreck your speech-making ability two days later. Eat in your hotel room if you can’t find a candle-free dining place. And it’s no good to tell everyone around you to blow out their candles. I’ve tried that strategy myself. But extinguished candles always smoke heavily, putting out extra heavy doses of soot and making matters worse.

Hillary, you will need to be proactive about this problem, because candles are everywhere. They are produced by the oil industry and are a major source of revenue, so hordes of salespeople have assured that candles are present in greater than 98% of dining establishments. Therefore, you had better plan in advance to make sure upcoming venues on your campaign tour know they are to leave their candles on the shelf while you are there. Too late if they must run around and snatch them up off the tables, or God forbid, blow them out. The invisible toxins are already in the air at that point.

Finally, given the unique and insidious nature of this allergy, let me dispense a little curative advice. The following are observations from years of candle allergy suffering on my part:

1. Do not use steroid inhalant sprays. These can indeed diminish a Type IV allergic reaction for a time — BUT — a steroid-suppressed Type IV reaction will come roaring back stronger than ever after the steroids wear off. Furthermore, the blanket suppression of immunity caused by steroids can reduce your natural resistance to pneumonia. Sound familiar?

2. Do use ibuprofen. This is a great pain killer and anti-inflammatory drug. Taking just one tablet four hours before a speaking engagement will dull the irritation that brings on coughing fits, and reduce the swelling of the epiglottis that brings on choking and gagging attacks.

3. Non-drowsy antihistamines may have some slight benefit if your allergy is Type I plus Type IV, so give them a limited try but don’t rely on them to fight coughing fits. Drowsy antihistamines may also help you sleep better at night.

4. Limit dextromethorphan. This classic cough remedy can help reduce coughing, though not the inflammation that causes it. And it is stupefying. So if you take a little too much, then you will come off as a dull and slow-witted speaker. Ibuprofen is your key remedy.

5. But most of all, AVOID CANDLE SMOKE. It would be a shame if you were to lose the election due to a product of the oil industry. How ironic if the minions of the candle companies were to take down the candidate who is most willing to battle mighty corporations on behalf of the people. If you are knocked off the campaign trail again and again by your allergies, then the oil giants will be on the brink of throwing the election in a most insidious way.

So there you have it, folks. If you are concerned about Hillary’s health and her ability to carry on her campaign, then pass this post along to your friends and contacts. If enough people do so, then it may eventually reach someone who can pass its message to Hillary. Until she learns what the source of her health problem is, she is at its mercy. Unless she does something about it, the very real possibility exists that her hopes to become president will be thwarted by her allergy to candle smoke!

About Tom Hopp

Thomas P Hopp is a scientist and author living in Seattle. He writes Peyton McKean mystery stories and the Dinosaur Wars science fiction series.
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