Have a headache, pain side of your face especially when you chew gum? Then you may be given gum to chew as you are being tested for a disease that causes blindness, stroke and death – Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA). Again trying to instill an awareness that out body talks to us – please listen up! Getting to medical help ASAP makes a big difference in this condition.
Research out of Sydney* showed that in patients with inflammation of the arteries of the head & face (temple arteries), a cramping pain occurs when gum is chewed.
This is caused by not enough blood getting to the muscles as they contract in chewing. The ‘chewing gum’ test is clear-cut – chew at a rate of one chew per second. If pain occurs, prompt testing, including blood work and biopsy, is done to confirm and start treatment quickly.
GCA is not easy or quick to diagnose. As we age we prefer softer foods and recognition of this as an early problems is put off.
*Study cited in: N Engl J Med 2016; 374:1794-1795 May 5, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1511420