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Old 17.10.2015, 16:38
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Allergic to Switzerland...?

Hi all,

I would never claim to have the most robust digestive system but since moving to Switzerland, things have been.....odd.

About two months after we moved here I had what at the time seemed like a bad bout of food poisoning. It took several weeks to improve, then deteriorated again and I was left with chronic runs (sorry...).

This went on for months and culminated in three days of extreme abdominal pain, which led to a hospital stay where they scratched their heads a bit, pumped me full of painkillers and sent me on my way when I could stand again.

I've had a few similar, shorter episodes before but they normally last 24 hours and then I'm fine. So why is it different now...? They had no idea, and no suggestions (bar the question, 'Do you find living in Switzerland particularly stressful?!').

Then, I went abroad for a month and things got better! Skin cleared up, happy guts etc. But now I've been back a week and I'm back to square one. I look like an acne-riddled teenager and my guts are rebelling. I'd been avoiding dairy this week because I assumed it was that but it clearly isn't.

Has anyone else had to make some culinary adjustments when they came here??
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Old 17.10.2015, 16:47
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

What are you drinking ?

I found the local habit of drinking 'wasser mit gas' was a big problem...instead, I drink normal tap water...

The shower water is shocking as well... we had the worst round of fungal skin infections in the year after arriving, it took a while to gradually change our shower/bath products and adapt our bathing schedule... combination of the water, dry air, heating, and layers of synthetic clothing...
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Old 17.10.2015, 16:51
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

Sorry to hear you've had such a rough start. You've said your doctors already mentioned this, but moving countries always comes with stressors, so one possibility is that the stress and/or changes you've experienced since moving here have wrecked havoc on your body. A new place also means exposure to new bacteria, viruses and germs, so your immune system is working hard to defend itself.
If I were you I would consult a second GP opinion and with his permission adjust my diet & start regularly doing relaxing and immunity boosting things like pilates, acupuncture and taking walks. Hope you feel better soon.

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Hi all,

I would never claim to have the most robust digestive system but since moving to Switzerland, things have been.....odd.

About two months after we moved here I had what at the time seemed like a bad bout of food poisoning. It took several weeks to improve, then deteriorated again and I was left with chronic runs (sorry...).

This went on for months and culminated in three days of extreme abdominal pain, which led to a hospital stay where they scratched their heads a bit, pumped me full of painkillers and sent me on my way when I could stand again.

I've had a few similar, shorter episodes before but they normally last 24 hours and then I'm fine. So why is it different now...? They had no idea, and no suggestions (bar the question, 'Do you find living in Switzerland particularly stressful?!').

Then, I went abroad for a month and things got better! Skin cleared up, happy guts etc. But now I've been back a week and I'm back to square one. I look like an acne-riddled teenager and my guts are rebelling. I'd been avoiding dairy this week because I assumed it was that but it clearly isn't.

Has anyone else had to make some culinary adjustments when they came here??

Last edited by lorena1; 17.10.2015 at 17:02.
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Old 17.10.2015, 16:58
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

Are you washing your hands before meals, after the lavatory etc.??
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Old 17.10.2015, 17:01
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

I had to make heavy culinary adjustments because I found out the hard way that Swiss cuisine is hidding milk at every corner, even on things you do not expect... However, I knew I am lactose intolerant, so it was easy to target the problem correctly.

Do you have any allergies or food intolerance? Is it possible you have a condiment problem (some restaurants, like the local Migros here, like to go heavy on the aromat...)? Have you been checked for some stomach bug (there was a nasty one running around a couple of months ago)? Is it possible that your stomach problems are stress related?

My skin and hair start getting better as soon as I am 2 days outside the country, but due to the water - the calc content in the Swiss water makes my skin really dry up (and so unbalaced that it ends in pimples) and my hair looks like straw. Is it possible stomach and hair problems have 2 different origins?

The only suggestion I can give you is to consult a doctor again and try to cut not only milk but other things from your meals (perhaps for a time only home made meals so you have a better control) and slowly add the rest, trying to find out what could be the trouble.

Feel better soon.
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Old 17.10.2015, 17:23
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

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Then, I went abroad for a month and things got better! Skin cleared up, happy guts etc. But now I've been back a week and I'm back to square one.
Where 'abroad' did you go? Perhaps there is a food you're sensitive to which is a pervasive part of the cuisine here but not there.

What happens if you only eat food from that country's cuisine for a few days here?
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Old 17.10.2015, 17:32
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

Thanks all for the suggestions

I do wash my hands, I am house trained

Abroad was Thailand, Spain and Portugal and I ate a lot of everything! Prior to moving to Switzerland we traveled for a year eating street food all over South America and South East Asia with ZERO problems. That's what staggers me: grubby Bolivian unidentified edible object, OK. Swiss food, not so much. I don't get it!!
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Old 17.10.2015, 17:40
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

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Do you have any allergies or food intolerance? Is it possible you have a condiment problem (some restaurants, like the local Migros here, like to go heavy on the aromat...)? Have you been checked for some stomach bug (there was a nasty one running around a couple of months ago)? Is it possible that your stomach problems are stress related?
I did a full allergen test about six weeks ago and the only thing that came back for a very mild sensitivity to certain pollens. I'm generally fine with food except very white, fluffy bread and couscous (go figure).

I guess it could be stress.... Don't get me wrong, I really like it here but it's not without its costs. My job is extremely unfulfilling and I fear that my career will wither and die if I stay here.. But my other half is Swiss and wants to be here so....we'll have to see. I love my colleagues and I'm trying to focus on that. Could my head be so out of touch with the rest of me that stress can manifest itself so physically...?
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Old 17.10.2015, 18:27
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

There seems to be something about Switzerland that turns one into the opposite of what one was before moving here!

I have always been a robust healthy sort with absolutely NO allergic reactions to anything ..... until I moved here.

My initial reaction to CH was to break out in a fire on my face ... raw and itchy that flared up even worse with any sort of heating system - house or in car - only responded to a cortisone cream. So it left my face and attacked other parts. I tracked it down eventually to those little tiny "devil"like chilies that my daughter-in-law would put in meat sauce (only one, for some kick) (!)

Then the hair! It stood on end like permanently attached to electricity! Got that tamed down eventually - lots of hair oils/special conditioners/not washing more than once a week (I used to have lovely hair - here I just got hair).

The hair also changed color ... here the sunshine bleaches out my natural brown and turns red! It used to bleach in sun to blonde streaks. But here it`s red! So have to color the ends twice a year now.

Catching a cold here is not a simple thing anymore. It brings hacking coughing, sinus infections, spreads to other parts of body to cause pain - and lasts weeks longer than before too.

First time in my life I`ve had to actually CUT my nails! They use to either wear down or break off.

And the worst of all is - have developed extreme allergy to smell of dogs/cats/feathers/anything smelling of animals! I used to have 5 dogs (small one slept in my bed), a cat, 20 free ranging chickens - now I can`t even visit a house where a cat lives now, without my nostrils and eyes turning red (!) The friendly Llamas next door put me off my food if they`re lying next to the fence - just the smell of them.

Ja, it`s a strange land. Meant for Hobbits and Elves?

I can see why Krankenkasse is VERY important here ....... Never visited a doctor so much in my entire life!
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Old 17.10.2015, 19:20
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

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What are you drinking ?

I found the local habit of drinking 'wasser mit gas' was a big problem...instead, I drink normal tap water...

The shower water is shocking as well... we had the worst round of fungal skin infections in the year after arriving, it took a while to gradually change our shower/bath products and adapt our bathing schedule... combination of the water, dry air, heating, and layers of synthetic clothing...

Oh goodness, that doesn't sound like fun!

I drink tap water mostly - surely that CAN'T be the problem...?

I'm using sanex shower gel and aveeno moisturiser as they seem to sooth dry skin the best. Aveeno products are the absolute bomb if you have irritable skin.

For the time being I'm off coffee, wine, cheese.
And I thought Switzerland was going to be fun, grmbl.
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Old 17.10.2015, 19:39
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

Milk can be hidden not only in, but on bread: To make bread look nice and brown, it sometimes is slathered with diluted milk. Make sure to check all ingredient lists on store-bought bread and to know all German/French/Italian terms for milk products and components, like whey, casein, lactose, etc.
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Old 17.10.2015, 20:31
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

I'm going to guess it's the dairy and/or msg. In Portugal, Spain and Thailand they use much less butter, milk, cream and cheese and in Switzerland they love their msg!

Try to eliminate those from your diet by carefully looking at the labels and choosing different food options.

I'm hope you find the 'problem'. It would be terrible to be allergic to Switerland!!
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Old 17.10.2015, 22:10
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

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And the worst of all is - have developed extreme allergy to smell of dogs/cats/feathers/anything smelling of animals! I used to have 5 dogs (small one slept in my bed), a cat, 20 free ranging chickens - now I can`t even visit a house where a cat lives now, without my nostrils and eyes turning red (!) The friendly Llamas next door put me off my food if they`re lying next to the fence - just the smell of them.

Ja, it`s a strange land. Meant for Hobbits and Elves?

I can see why Krankenkasse is VERY important here ....... Never visited a doctor so much in my entire life!
The other most likely affliction that commonly affects trailing spouses on assignment...pregnancy .
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Old 17.10.2015, 22:31
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

have you considered that you might have IBS? The stress of moving ... Might have caused it to flare up...
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Old 17.10.2015, 23:22
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

Since you are already having issues with white bread and couscous, could the problem be gluten? Are you eating a lot more bread here than in the other countries?
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Old 18.10.2015, 01:34
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

If I told you all the symptoms and pain I'd had since moving back to Switzerland you would think I was a lunatic (possibly I am).

It started the week before we moved back here and has gone on for 3.5 years. Physical pain from Bladder pain to Toothe ache. Neuro symptoms from muscle twitches to palpitations.

I spent three years in and out of doctors with different problems, to keep getting told there's nothing wrong. I have only just figured out that it is all caused by stress and anxiety.

Now if I get excruciating tooth ache for example, I lie down, relax, tell myself it's all due to anxiety and pain is in the brain.... It goes away within 15 minutes.

The brain is a crazy powerful organ.
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Old 18.10.2015, 10:37
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

That sounds quite painful!

Now let me hazard a guess. Could it be that because all you three lovely ladies are married to Swiss men?

Joking aside, I do hope you find out what is causing all those changes.
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Old 19.10.2015, 21:44
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

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That sounds quite painful!

Now let me hazard a guess. Could it be that because all you three lovely ladies are married to Swiss men?

Joking aside, I do hope you find out what is causing all those changes.

Haha, we're not married yet! I fear that could be fatal
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Old 19.10.2015, 22:02
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

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Since you are already having issues with white bread and couscous, could the problem be gluten? Are you eating a lot more bread here than in the other countries?
I don't think it's gluten, or certainly not all wheat based things. I have a friend with coeliacs, and it's definitely not as bad as that, poor guy.

And I was raised on bread, but when we moved to the UK, it was hard to find good bread, so it was either porridge or the brownest brown bread we could find. Now I'm definitely eating more of the sort of bread I grew up on, so maybe my body has forgotten how to cope with it...

Anyway, I've decided to (a) do more exercise (b) eat more brown rice, not too much bread and no dairy, and (c) fashion a sort of ship-dip so i can regularly administer of a total covering of moisturiser Should do the trick
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Old 19.10.2015, 23:20
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Re: Allergic to Switzerland...?

Not at all tested, but I also had terrible problems when settling here 30 yrs. ago. Very non-specific, but I felt terrible for a few hours at a time - stomach, weak, tired etc. (but I was very happy and motivated to be here - so believe that psychological aspects weren't the reason).

Realised after a while that the change to my diet (am vegetarian, so was easy) was that I felt very unwell after having UHT dairy products in my coffee etc. In the U.K. I didn't have that, but here it's pretty common (coffee cream etc.). So, after having cut-out anything to do with UHT dairy, I haven't had any problems, and avoid it like the plague.

Last edited by ZuriRollt; 19.10.2015 at 23:59.
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