Onion allergy is a type of food allergy that can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe.
Table of Contents
- Allium vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and leeks, contain a protein that can trigger an immune response in some people, leading to an allergic reaction.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at onion allergy, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options, as well as related conditions such as allium intolerance and allium allergy.
- Between 1.1 to 10.8% of the global population suffer from food allergies. And the estimated rate is increasing day by day.
- The good thing is that onion allergy is very rare. About 3% of the US population is allergic to onions.
Onions are the regularly used item in food, so it is very essential to be aware of their allergies. It can trigger an allergy in cooked as well as raw forms too.
- This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of onion allergy, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
- It will also cover the difference between onion allergy and onion intolerance, and provide tips for managing and avoiding it.
- In addition, the article will touch on some of the latest research and findings related to onion allergy, and provide links to additional resources for readers who want to learn more about this condition.
By reading this article, readers will be better equipped to identify the signs and symptoms of onion allergy, understand the causes and risk factors, and learn about the different treatment options available.
- They will also gain valuable insights into how to manage and avoid onion allergy and will be better prepared to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.
The importance of identifying Onion Allergy
This cannot be overstated, as it is a potentially serious condition that can greatly impact a person’s quality of life.
- Without proper diagnosis and treatment, onion allergy can lead to chronic symptoms, and may even put the person at risk of developing anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction.
- Furthermore, onion allergy is often underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed, as many people do not realize that their symptoms are related to an allergic reaction to onions.
They may also mistake their symptoms for other conditions, such as food poisoning or irritable bowel syndrome.
This can delay proper treatment and put the person at risk of further complications.
Onion allergy is a type of food allergy that occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to the proteins found in onions.
The proteins in onions that trigger an allergic reaction are called allium proteins, which are found in all allium vegetables, including onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives.
- Allium proteins are heat-stable, which means they are not broken down during the cooking process, and can still cause an allergic reaction even after being cooked.
This can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe, and in some cases, may even be life-threatening.
- You can be allergic if your body acts in a certain unwanted way every time you consume that food.
- As with any other allergy, onion allergy is also triggered by eating or having direct contact with onions.
| Read: Thyroid And Smelling Smoke
Difference between onion intolerance and onion allergy
Onion allergy is different from onion intolerance, which is a non-immune response to onions and other allium vegetables.
Onion intolerance can cause symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach pain, and diarrhea, but it does not involve the immune system.
Instead, onion intolerance is caused by the body’s inability to properly digest the carbohydrates found in onions, such as fructose and oligosaccharides.
It is important to distinguish between onion allergy and onion intolerance, as the treatment for each condition can be different.
While the primary treatment for onion allergy is allergen avoidance.
- The treatment for onion intolerance may involve dietary changes, such as limiting or avoiding allium vegetables, and using digestive aids, such as probiotics or enzymes.
How the immune system reacts to onion allergen
If you have an onion allergy then the immune system reacts unusually to the proteins in onions.
The immune system recognizes the protein as any unsafe substance and makes antibodies (lgE) that fight against a protein that it considers hazardous.
- To save the body from this weird situation excessive amount of histamine is produced in the gut, pharynx, and skin.
- This increased quantity of histamine makes a person teary eyes, sneeze, sore throat, and skin rashes.
Symptoms of onion allergy
Common symptoms of onion allergy include respiratory, gastrointestinal, and skin reactions.
The symptoms of onion allergy can vary from person to person, with some people experiencing mild symptoms, while others may experience severe or life-threatening reactions.
The most common symptoms of onion allergy include:
- Itching and swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat
- Hives or rash on the skin
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
Severity and duration of symptoms
In severe cases, onion allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can cause swelling of the airways, a rapid drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
- Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, and individuals who are at risk of anaphylaxis should carry epinephrine (such as an EpiPen) with them at all times.
It may include the following symptoms:
- trouble breathing
- swelling in the mouth and throat
- loss of consciousness
Research statistics on the prevalence and impact of onion allergy
- According to a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, onion allergy is estimated to affect approximately 1% of the general population.
- The World Allergy Organization states that the prevalence of food allergies, including onion allergy, is increasing worldwide.
- The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology provides a list of common food allergens, including onions, and recommends allergen avoidance as the primary treatment for food allergies.
Causes of Onion Allergy
- Onion allergy is caused by an overreaction of the immune system to the proteins found in onions.
When you eat onions, the Allium proteins trigger an immune response, causing the release of histamine and other chemicals that cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Research has shown that onion allergy is more common in adults than in children, and it’s more prevalent in women than in men.
- Individuals with a history of other food allergies or a family history of allergies are also at a higher risk of developing onion allergy.
Diagnosis of Onion Allergy
Medical tests that can confirm it include skin prick tests and blood tests. A specific IgE blood test is done for this.
- Blood tests: Amount of certain immune antibodies are looked for.
- Skin test: Liquid food extract is placed on the skin and then a small part of the skin is pricked. If after sometime bump appears the person is sensitive to that food.
- Eliminate diet: The patient is asked to eliminate diet for a period of time and if the symptoms disappear it means the allergy is confirmed.
When to see a doctor or allergist
If you suspect that you have an onion allergy, you should see a doctor or allergist for a proper diagnosis.
- Your doctor will likely ask about your symptoms and medical history and may perform a skin prick test or blood test to determine if you’re allergic to onions.
In some cases, a food challenge test may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
It’s essential to seek a proper diagnosis of this because it can be difficult to identify on your own.
- The symptoms of onion allergy can be similar to other food allergies, and some people may mistake their symptoms for a non-allergic reaction.
Treatment of Onion Allergy
- Avoid onions and onion products, including hidden sources of onion
The most effective way to manage this allergy is to avoid onions and onion products altogether.
This includes raw onion, cooked onion, and any food that contains onions as an ingredient.
It’s important to read food labels carefully and to avoid eating in restaurants that use onions in their cooking.
- Medications for onion allergy symptoms
It usually includes antihistamines and epinephrine.
For more severe reactions, your doctor may recommend prescription medications, such as antihistamines or corticosteroids.
- Immunotherapy options
It is used for managing onion allergy in the long term.
In some cases, immunotherapy, which involves gradual exposure to small amounts of the allergen, may be recommended to build up a tolerance to onion proteins.
- Alternative remedies
There are also alternative remedies that some people may find helpful such as acupuncture or herbal medicine.
- However, it is important to note that these remedies may not have been scientifically proven to be effective in treating allium intolerance.
- Before trying any alternative remedies, it is recommended to speak with a healthcare professional.
- Almonds – It neutralizes acids in the stomach thus relieving reflux and heartburn symptoms.
- Aloe Vera – It helps in minimizing the effects on the skin such as skin rashes or swelling.
- Bananas – It aids in digestion and helps to relieve bloating.
- Antihistamines – Best works in onion allergies.
- Epi-pens – Should be carried by anyone who experiences strong allergic reactions to the onion.
- Albuterol inhaler – To relieve breathing problems(asthma symptoms).
- Topical creams, ointments, and corticosteroids – Skin rashes and hives can be subsided.
- Nux Vomica – A natural, homeopathic treatment that can relieve digestive problems caused by onion allergy.
Research statistics on the efficacy and safety of various treatments for onion allergy and allium intolerance
- According to The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) they do not require food manufacturers to list onions as an allergen.
However, the FDA requires that manufacturers list the ingredients in their products, so looking for onions in the ingredients list may be helpful.
- The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (ACAAI) recommends that people with food allergies should wear a medical alert bracelet that lists their allergy triggers.
- The ACAAI also recommends that people at risk carry an epinephrine auto-injector device, such as an EpiPen.
Alternative foods to replace onions, including substitutes for flavor and texture
The best foods to replace onions are other alliums.
Even though, you may avoid these too. Some other alternatives are:
- Low FODMAP foods and spices
Prevention of Onion Allergy
- Ways to prevent this allergy from developing include introducing onions to the diet early and limiting exposure to other allergens.
- Avoid eating other foods of the family of onions.
Garlic and leek may also produce allergic symptoms due to garlic allergy or food sensitivity.
- If “spices”, “natural flavorings” and “seasonings”, are written on the ingredient list then avoid them.
These are generally written when an item was flavored with onions.
- Reducing the risk of allergic reactions, such as carrying medication and wearing a medical ID bracelet.
- Strategies for avoiding cross-contamination in food preparation and dining out.
Chances are the pre-made sauces or seasonings used for the dish have onions in it.
Living with Onion Allergy
- Make coping strategies for managing this allergy in daily life, including meal planning and travel tips.
- Reach support resources for people with onion allergy and their families, including patient organizations and online communities.
- Keep in mind research statistics on the impact of onion allergy on quality of life and mental health. This will make you alert on a daily basis.
- In conclusion, allium intolerance, also known as onion allergy, can cause various symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
- The exact cause of allium intolerance is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be caused by the body’s immune system reacting to certain compounds found in allium vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and shallots.
If you suspect that you may have allium intolerance, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional.
- They can help diagnose the condition and recommend the appropriate treatment plan, which may involve avoiding allium vegetables and/or taking medication to manage the symptoms.
While allium intolerance can be challenging to manage, it is possible to still enjoy a healthy and balanced diet by incorporating alternative vegetables and seasonings.
- It is important to stay informed and educated on the condition and to work closely with a healthcare professional to ensure the best possible management of allium intolerance.
- In summary, onion allergy is an immune system response to the proteins found in onions and can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe.
- It is different from onion intolerance, which is a non-immune response to onions and can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
- If you suspect that you may have an onion allergy or intolerance, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional to get an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
How do I know if I am allergic to onions?
You can be allergic if your body acts in a certain unwanted way every time you consume that food. As with any other allergy, onion allergy is also triggered by eating or having direct contact with onions.
How serious is an onion allergy?
Usually, onion allergy is not serious but in severe cases, onion allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can cause swelling of the airways, a rapid drop in blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.
What can I replace onion with for allergy?
The best foods to replace onions are other alliums. Even though, you may avoid these too. Some other alternatives are Asafetida Fennel Radish Celery Low FODMAP foods and spices