A coffee allergy is not considered a common food allergy, but some people experience symptoms of a food allergy after consuming coffee. Like other food allergies, a coffee allergy is caused by a malfunction in the immune system that identifies the proteins in the coffee bean as a harmful substance, according to the Food Allergy and Research Education website.
Cause of Allergy
A coffee allergy is caused by a hypersensitivity of your immune system. When coffee is ingested, your immune system mistakes the proteins as a potentially dangerous substance and forms antibodies to fight it off. In the beginning stages of the immune system producing an antibody, you may have very minor allergy symptoms. Once your body has produced enough antibodies to trigger the release of histamine, then you will experience more severe allergic reaction symptoms.
Common symptoms of a food allergy include digestive issues, nasal complications, skin rashes and irritation in the eyes and throat, according to naturopathic physician, Linda Melos. You may develop abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea as a result of consuming coffee. Nasal complications include sinus pain, a runny nose, sneezing and postnasal drip. Your eyes and throat can become irritated and inflamed, leading to watery, red eyes and a scratchy throat.
The most common rashes associated with a coffee allergy are hives, general itching and eczema, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Hives are welts that form in various shapes and sizes and are extremely itchy. The welts have defined borders that can migrate to anywhere on your body, according to MedlinePlus. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that is easily triggered by a food allergy, such as coffee. Eczema produces scaly blisters that can ooze and crust over.
Treating hives and eczema as a result of a coffee allergy begins with avoiding the consumption of coffee. Accidental ingestion of coffee that leads to skin rashes are most effectively treated using over-the-counter antihistamine lotions, according to MedlinePlus. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroid lotions to reduce inflammation and calm the skin.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases warns that food allergies are a serious condition and need to be evaluated by an allergist to determine the best treatment. A food allergy, such as a coffee allergy, can lead to a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, that could be life-threatening.