What is carbohydrate allergy?

Fact Checked

Most cases of food allergies are associated to the proteins present in specific foods such as whey, gluten or casein. Based on the studies, it was discovered that some uncommon allergies such as meat was triggered by a reaction to certain carbohydrates, not the proteins.

The allergic reaction is hypersensitivity to specific carbohydrates and might not be linked to carbohydrates in general. Always bear in mind that food allergies are usually confused as food intolerance and must be properly assessed by a doctor. As for a food allergy, it is the malfunction of the immune system while food intolerance is the inability of the intestines to produce the suitable enzymes to breakdown certain sugars and proteins. In case you suspect that an individual has carbohydrate allergy, a doctor must be consulted.

Carbohydrate allergy
The individual can develop cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and a stomach upset within minutes of eating foods that contain carbohydrates he/she is allergic to.

Allergic reaction

An allergic reaction to carbohydrates develops once the immune system erroneously identifies carbohydrate as a threat to the body. Even though carbohydrate is relatively harmless, the body reacts to it as a virus or bacteria. The immune system produces the IgE antibodies which are structured to fight off the carbohydrates. The release of the IgE antibodies will trigger the mast cells to generate histamine which is one of the chemicals responsible for triggering the symptoms of food allergy. If you want to be prepared to handle an allergic reaction, read here.

Identifying an allergy

Identification and confirmation of carbohydrate allergy is the initial step in preventing and treatment. If the doctor suspects that the individual is allergic to certain carbohydrates, allergy testing is carried out to determine the types of carbohydrates that can cause a reaction. A skin prick test or blood test can help determine if the body products IgE antibodies are present once carbohydrate is introduced into the body. If the results turn out positive, it will confirm that the individual has carbohydrate allergy.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the allergy are the same with any food allergy. The usual symptoms develop in the skin, digestive tract and respiratory tract. The symptoms can range from minor to severe and tends to develop within the first hour after the ingestion of carbohydrates.

The individual can develop cramping, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and a stomach upset within minutes of eating foods that contain carbohydrates he/she is allergic to. Take note that the skin will become itchy, inflamed and reddened around the mouth or any part of the body. Eczema and hives are the usual skin reactions that occur from food allergy. The respiratory system can become strained which leads to the inflammation in the lungs, sinuses and throat. This will lead to shortness of breath, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, chest pain and postnasal drip.

Considerations to bear in mind

The only known carbohydrate allergy that has been identified is with the carbohydrates that are present in meats. An allergic reaction is considered uncommon and causes delayed symptoms while other protein allergies can cause relatively immediate symptoms.

Intolerance will only trigger digestive symptoms while an actual carbohydrate allergy will cause symptoms that affect other bodily systems. A carbohydrate allergy will lead to anaphylactic shock and must be evaluated by a doctor. The individual must stop eating any food that he/she is allergic to until a doctor is consulted.

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