Monday, August 17, 2009

"Yes, I'll have shrimp with a headache on the side, please."

I had a really bad experience recently.

I was exploring the harbour of City B- and met my cousin at a fabulous little Italian restaurant. The bruschetta was out of this world and made with fresh ingredients. The romaine lettuce in my salad had been grilled and was delicious. It came with three giant shrimp. I love shrimp and have never had a problem with it.

However, while I was eating, my head burst into the most massive headache I have ever experienced. I don't get headaches. The only time I've ever gotten headaches is due to caffeine withdrawal or a bad case of the flu.

Not knowing why my head was throbbing, I finished my salad and the shrimp and headed out on foot to continue exploring the city. My headache grew worse. I knew it wasn't in any way caffeine-related because the back of my head hurt as much as the front. After barely making it through a museum, Jeff and I decided to head home. He mentioned that I could be dehydrated. It's possible, I thought, as I glanced at the pedometer which read 12.75 miles.

We added to the mileage by running several blocks of the city to make the train. Once we reached the train station, I felt like I was going to pass out if I didn't have water. I walked to the front of the train and asked the conductor if he had any water. I was delirious and desperate. He opened his personal cooler and pulled out an ice cold bottle of water. I felt like I was witnessing a miracle. It was as if he was expecting me....The water was nice but my headache raged on. I tried closing my eyes but it made noises louder and more aggravating. I felt bad for Jeff. There was nothing he could do even though he kept asking.

He did some Google searches and guessed from the research that I was experiencing mercury poisoning from the shrimp. Many others had experienced the exact same thing while eating affected shrimp and some pointed to possible mercury contamination. Weird, but this doesn't prove anything.

I did a tiny bit of looking around at shrimp issues, even though I am finished eating shrimp. There are better ways to get protein in my diet and the risk is not worth taking.

As a disclaimer, I really can't say that the shrimp for sure caused my headache. My point is that because I got such a terrible headache and found some interesting information about shrimp as a result, I'm done eating it....whether or not it was the culprit in my case.

Check out these sites for more information:

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish/seafood/suspicious-shrimp

http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/fish/seafood/mercury-fish/

http://www.epa.gov/fishadvisories/advice/ -According to the EPA, shrimp are low in mercury....


Posts about SUGAR soon!

7 comments:

Sizzle said...

That sounds horrible!

Gavin said...

Rest assured you did not get mercury poising from the shrimp you ate, despite what your online research might suggest. If you check out this link:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/Seafood/FoodbornePathogensContaminants/Methylmercury/ucm115644.htm

You will find that the FDA keeps a list of the mercury levels in commercial fish and shellfish. If you look at shrimp you will see the levels are listed as ND which means “mercury concentration below detection level.”

You did not get sick from a substance present in such minuscule amounts that scientists can’t even detect it.

Gavin Gibbons
National Fisheries Institute

Michelle said...

Yikes, well whatever it was it probably wasn't the bread that caused a serious sudden headache! Too bad for your nice meal out. I don't do Italian much, even though the North End is fun in the summer. However, I did go to Grezzo last week!

My Year Without said...

The more research I did about shrimp has uncovered that undercooked shrimp can be problematic, but there is little evidence to support my original theory about mercury poisoning....

nienithaur said...

You did not get mercury poisoning. The symptoms of toxic amounts of dimethylmercury, which is the form of mercury present in seafood, will take quite some time to develop. We are talking weeks, even months. One famous case is the tragic poisoning-accident and eventual death of professor Karen Wetterhahn. Her symptoms showed about five months after the actual dimethylmercury exposure.

My Year Without said...

Nienithaur-Interesting. Thanks for the info.

I'm sorry to hear about Prof. Wetterhahn....

Patrick said...

Mercury poisoning takes a long time to develop, months & years based on consumption of seafood.

You would had to drink a vial of pure elemental mercury to develop instantaneous symptoms, and not even then.