Aspartame is used as an artificial sweetener in coffee and diet sodas. According to the American Cancer Society, aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar, does not cause tooth disease and has less calories than sugar. From 1988 to April 1995, 7,232 complaints against aspartame have been reported to the FDA, Dr. H.J. Roberts reports in his article "Aspartame Disease: An FDA-Approved Epidemic." Dr. Roberts grouped these complaints and coined the name "aspartame disease" to describe the constellation of symptoms he believes is caused by the sweetener. According to Dr. Roberts, the disease is caused by increased intake of aspartame, which can cause a variety of symptoms. Although the disease has yet to be recognized by sanctioning bodies, such as the CDC, Dr. Roberts believes it is a real and pressing concern.
Eye and Vision Abnormalities
Aspartame disease may cause a variety of symptoms within the eye, including decreased vision, eye pain and dry eyes, according to the World Natural Health Organization. Often, patients complain of seeing bright flashes or tunnel vision. In severe cases, blindness in one or both eyes may develop. According to the World Natural Health Organization, aspartame is broken down into methyl alcohol, also known as wood alcohol, by the body. Exposure to this alcohol causes damage to the structures of eye.
After consuming aspartame, you may develop difficulty breathing, or dyspnea, explains the article, "Aspartame Disease: A Possible Cause for Concomitant Graves' Disease and Pulmonary Hypertension," written by H.J. Roberts in a 2004 issue of the "Texas Heart Institute Journal." According to Dr. Roberts, nine percent of aspartame patients he has reviewed, most of which were females between the ages of 20 and 40, complained of dyspnea--and experienced an improvement in symptoms after they stopped using aspartame. The article goes on to hypothesize that the dyspnea might have been due to pulmonary hypertension caused by aspartame intake. Pulmonary hypertension is a disease characterized by increased blood pressure in the lungs. In severe cases, this increase in blood pressure can manifest as difficulty breathing.
Headache and Dizziness
Although the American Cancer Society does not recognize the existence of "aspartame disease," it does report that you may develop a mild headache or dizziness after taking aspartame. Furthermore, these symptoms are considered rare side effects--and may only be seen in the relatively few patients who have an adverse reaction to the sweetener.
Seizures can be a symptom of aspartame disease, according to the World Natural Health Organization. You may first develop severe tremors of your extremities. As the condition worsens, you may experience different types of seizures, such as grand mal, or convulsive, seizures and absence seizures. Grand mal seizures cause your whole body to contract and lead to severe convulsions that may cause you to lose consciousness. Absence seizures are episodes where you are unresponsive to external stimuli for a noticeable amount of time. Although seizures due to aspartame intake are very rare, consult your physician if you're worried about this side effect.