Onion allergy – what is it?
Onion allergy is a condition in which after consumption of onions the body starts reacting in an unwanted manner. Similar to all other allergies this allergy is also triggered when stimulant (onion) is consumed by allergic people. About 3% of the US population is allergic to onions. In most cases onion allergic people are also allergic to garlic. Studies have indicated that raw onions cause more allergy than cooked ones.
What happens when allergic people consume onion?
Onion contains many proteins. These proteins react with the IGE antibodies present in our body and trigger the mast cells. These mast cells are mainly present in the skin, pharynx and gut. Upon reaction with the proteins these mast cells release histamine which causes adverse reactions in the body. Therefore it can be concluded that the major cause of onion allergy is histamine.
Onion allergy symptoms
The symptoms of onion allergy are very much similar to other allergies. The symptoms may appear at different times after the consumption of onions. There is a huge gap in the timeframe and a person may experience the symptoms immediately after the consumption or within a span of two hours. Onion allergy symptoms are vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, redness or skin inflammation, sudden swelling, stomach cramps and eye irritation.
In many cases a person may not be allergic but is intolerant to onions. Such person may suffer from some small problems when onion or garlic is being cooked. These are problems like burping, burning sensations in mouth, blisters in mouth, gums or throat. These people have the difficulty in digesting onions. Therefore it is a necessity to identify whether the person is intolerant or allergic to onions. You can identify your intolerance by blood tests and allergy tests.
It has been rightly said that prevention is better than cure. Therefore the best treatment is to avoid the consumption of onions. An onion allergic person must be overcautious about what he eats because onion is an integral part of many recipes and sometimes though it is not used directly but its derivatives may be present. People with such allergy must go through the list of ingredients present on the packets of each processed food and also take special care when eating outside.
But if there is an accidental exposure to onions then antihistamine medication or injection of epinephrine is used. In the presence of skin reactions only ointments and corticosteroids is helpful.
Onion allergy may not be very common but for allergic people it is a very big problem. Allergic people may find it very difficult to control the consumption of onions. Though the US food and drug department has not recognized onion as a major allergen but to an onion allergic person it might turn out to be dangerous. Allergic people may develop the condition of ‘anaphylaxis’ which causes dizziness, faintness, difficulty in breathing, loss of conscience, hives, rapid heartbeats and swelling. People suffering from anaphylaxis need immediate medical attention such as a shot of epinephrine. Allergic people must abstain from onions. This is the most difficult part as almost all major food items are prepared using onions.