08 July, 2011
Licorice & Allergies
A licorice allergy has effects similar to those of any food allergy, such as nuts, fish or milk. A licorice allergy is primarily known for causing shortness of breath, skin rashes and itching, according to Aetna InteliHealth. Licorice is an herb that is commonly found in candies and baked goods and is used in some herbal teas. If someone experiences allergy symptoms after consuming licorice, he should talk with an allergist to undergo testing to confirm a licorice allergy.
About Food Allergies
When someone has a food allergy, her immune system mistakes the food as a harmful substance. The immune system responds to the licorice herb by creating antibodies to fight it off. IgE antibodies cause mast cells to release histamine in the blood, which leads to common allergy symptoms. Avoid ingesting licorice if it causes allergy symptoms. The most common food allergens are nuts, fish, eggs and dairy products, according to MayoClinic.com.
The most common symptoms of a licorice allergy are skin rashes, asthma symptoms and itching in the nose, throat or eyes. Typical skin rashes from a licorice allergy include hives and eczema. Both rashes produce inflammation and cause severe itching around the affected areas. Asthma symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and chest discomfort. In some cases, a licorice allergy can cause nasal congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure pain.
There is no cure for a licorice allergy. Avoiding foods and beverages containing licorice byproducts, such as licorice extract, is the best way to manage the condition. According to Aetna InteliHealth, the FDA does not require food manufacturers to disclose the use of licorice in products with special precautionary statements, but licorice will still be listed in the ingredients. Read the ingredients list closely to identify the use of licorice in prepackaged foods.
A mild food allergy can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines, according to MedlinePlus. Antihistamines will help reduce allergy symptoms by restricting the mast cells from producing histamine. Hives and eczema can be treated with over-the-counter hydrocortisone to relieve the itch and reduce swelling. Severe skin rashes may be treated with prescribed corticosteroids. If a patient experiences asthmatic conditions from ingesting licorice, she should talk with her doctor for the best method of treatment.
MayoClinic.com warns that a severe allergic reaction to licorice could lead to death if not treated promptly. Anaphylactic shock is an extreme allergic reaction that affects the entire body. Common symptoms are a sudden drop in blood pressure, rapid heart rate and anxiety.
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