Denis Olukuma, 47, a resident of Kees village, Ngora Sub-county in Ngora District had for over five years suffered a serious cough that could not respond to any of the medical prescriptions he received.
He had tested severally for HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis, the common health conditions associated with cough, but none of these gave any clue to the cause of the health problem he had been confronted with.
“Many of my friends avoided sitting next to me fearing they could contract the cough from me. I was isolated and stigmatised for something for which I could not get proper treatment,” says Olukuma.
His throat would often become hoarse, accompanied with a dry and hard cough that, at times, would result in sharp pain around the back and rib cage before subsiding after taking some antibiotics.
Olukuma continued receiving palliative treatment for the ailment until one day, a doctor he had approached for further treatment suggested he could be suffering from an allergy.
“The doctor asked me which drinks I regularly drank, apart from water. By that time, I was heavily dependent on ajon (a local millet brew) and I would spend much of my free time taking this stuff in large amounts,” he recalls.
Olukuma was advised to suspend alcohol consumption and subsequently put on observation for possible allergic reaction arising from alcohol. Four months after he ceased drinking, it was confirmed that it was a “brewer’s yeast allergy” he was suffering from.
“Surprisingly, I no longer have the cough. Just a week after I had stopped drinking (alcohol), there was no more coughing and I am much better now,” narrates Olukuma.
According to Dr Gorreti Ibilat, the medical superintendent of Ngora Freda Carr hospital, 20 per cent of cough- related complications among adults attended to at the hospital are associated with excessive consumption of alcohol.
“Most of these cases, at initial diagnosis do not respond to treatment. It is common with adults who consume a lot of alcohol and the males in particular,” Dr Ibilat says.
Dr Ibilat says patients with such “stubborn cough” are always advised to observe healthy habits and limit consumption of foods and beverages suspected to trigger such complications.
“People diagnosed of the brewer’s yeast allergy often exhibit a compromised immune system; frequent colds, chronic fatigue and depression,” adds Dr Ibilat.
Other symptoms of a yeast allergy include; fatigue, bloating, coughing, heartburn and bad breath, Dr Ibilat adds.
When the volume of yeast in the body increases, an individual begins to display intolerance symptoms that normally exhibit in form of nasal congestion and sneezing.
The type of yeast used to ferment alcoholic beverages; a one-celled fungus has been discovered to be the type that mostly predisposes alcohol consumers to the yeast allergy.
According to Dr Charles Engoru, a general physician at Soroti Referral Hospital, overdependence on antibiotics for medication, especially those that are reactive to the intestinal tract’s natural bacteria which keep yeast amounts in the body in balance, is another cause of yeast allergy.
Dr Engoru says such complications can be treated with anti-fungal drugs for example nystatin, a medication that checks overpopulation of yeast in the body adding that occasionally with the right dietary management, a yeast allergy can be checked even without taking any drugs.
Foods such as white rice, corn syrup, honey, vinegar on salads and sugars should also be avoided by heavy consumers of alcohol. People who are yeast-intolerant should also avoid yeast-rich foods and drinks.