Have you been affected by Ciguatera Poisoning?: Yes, I have had ciguatera poisoning
How did you hear about us?: Search Engine
Tell us your story: I live in Cairns, Australia. In 2010, I ate heaps of smoked mackerel over a period of 5 days. I have eaten this amount of smoked fish regularly and never thought for a minute that my symptoms were related to eating fish. At first I had the hot cold sensations, followed by a headaches, tingles in my face, hands and arms, progressively itchy skin, burning skin sensation and on the fifth day really bad pains in my legs. I went to the doctors the next day and was sent for blood tests as my doctor did not know what I had. While waiting for my results to come back one of my friends contacted me to say that I had Ciguatera Poisoning. I went back to my Doctor and told her my thoughts that I had Ciguatera poisoning and she agreed. She told me not to eat any fish for 3 months and never to eat large reef fish again. I followed her advice and by the end of 4 weeks all of my symptoms had disappeared. I resumed eating seafood (except Mackerel and large reef fish) and felt fine until August 2013 My symptoms started slowly at first but got progressively worse. I began to feel really weird and had nerve pain in my hands and arms, , muscle weakness in my forearms, tingles in my face, and felt weird in the head and was constantly thirsty. I went to my doctor and was sent off for ultrasounds on my arms, a nerve conduction test and to the hand Clinic to try to find out what I had. Nothing conclusive was found and the doctor and I decided that I must have had a reboot of Ciguatera poisoning. In desperation I also went to see a Naturopath and had a hair follicle test. The hair follicle test came back showing that I had a very high reading of mercury in my system. I followed the advice of the naturopath and took supplements as well as changed my diet completely. No seafood of any sort, no processed food, no alcohol (I usually drink two drinks every night) no soft drink, and followed a healthy natural eating program for 3 months. I also purchased a water purifier. Within 2 weeks I started to improve and felt very relieved. In three months nearly all of my symptoms had disappeared except for my left hand which needed a cast made and was quite weak (not ciguatera related) I slowly introduced scallops, prawns and Atlantic salmon into my diet and had no reaction and slowing went back to bad eating and drinking habits In February 2016my cigeutera symptoms started to reappear. The symptoms are different this time. I have very bad hand and forearm tingles, burning shin sensation, muscle weakness in my arms and some hot and cold sensations. I went back onto the internet and found your Blog. When I read that I should have cut alcohol out altogether I couldn’t believe it. I immediately stopped drinking and have felt a mild improvement. When I did my research in 2010 I never read that I should not consume alcohol and feel really let down by the lack of information published on CFP. I am now back on my healthy eating program and hoping this works for me. Can you give me any advice?
So sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been traveling over the past few weeks and just now getting caught up. What a crazy story and so sorry you’ve gone through this off and on now for six years, I really don’t have any advise I can offer other than staying away from seafood all together. In the research I did I always heard that the toxin stays in your system for years and eating any kind of fish could trigger the symptoms coming back in some people, unfortunately it sounds like you are one of them.
I’ve been eating only deep ocean moving pelagic fish over the past few years like Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Swordfish & Wahoo and haven’t had any symptoms come back, I do however stay away from all other pelagic’s like King Mackerel, Spanish Mackerel and many others which have had a history of ciguatera,
On the alcohol I do remember it triggering the symptoms while I sick so I stopped altogether, after 6 months I started drinking again and seemed to get some mild symptoms from time to time like tingling and sweaty feet and palms but I’ve been fine now for over 3 years.
In closing as hard a I know it is to eliminate all fish and shell fish from your diet, I would personally stop eating anything from the ocean altogether for at least 6 months and see what happens, if your symptoms completely subside like mine did I would only introduce the pelagic fish back into your diet that I described above in small amounts and see what happens.
I do have one symptom that never went away and its reversal of hot & cold in my hands, although its mild and doesn’t bother me its a constant reminder that the toxin is still in my system.. ):
Good Luck and feel free to contact me anytime and please keep me posted on your progress…