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Symptoms of Potassium Food Allergies

By Amber Keefer ; Updated August 14, 2017

A food allergy is a sensitivity to a certain food or particular substance in a food. Potassium bisulfite and potassium metabisulfite are common food additives to which some people are allergic. Consuming food that contains these compounds can trigger uncomfortable or even serious side effects. Most times symptoms develop within minutes to an hour after eating. While allergy symptoms may differ among individuals, there are some symptoms people seem to experience more often than others. If you know that you are allergic to these substances, the best treatment is prevention. Avoid ingesting foods or beverages which contain these compounds. Make it a habit to read food labels, and do not be afraid to ask how food is prepared when eating out.

Nausea/Vomiting

There are people who suffer side effects such as nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps or diarrhea from consuming foods that contain potassium additives. While these are common signs of an allergic reaction, contact your doctor if symptoms persist or become severe. If stools are black and tarry, or you vomit what looks like coffee grounds, do not wait. Seek medical advice from your doctor as soon as possible.

Muscle Weakness

It is not uncommon for people with a food allergy or intolerance to experience muscle and joint pain. However, unusual muscle weakness can be a sign of a serious allergic reaction. Call your doctor immediately if your legs feel weak or heavy, or you experience numbness or tingling in your hands, feet or lips. Symptoms such as confusion and listlessness can occur as signs of a more serious reaction. Diets high in potassium may also trigger hyperkalemia, another medical condition that can show similar symptoms. Individuals may experience weakness, numbness or tingling sensations, irregular heartbeat, paralysis or fatigue. Use of salt substitutes or potassium supplements is sometimes the cause.

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Trouble Breathing

Abnormal heartbeat, a racing pulse, tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing are other potentially serious side effects of potassium food allergies. Some people who eat or drink food products to which sulfites have been added can experience an allergic reaction to the potassium. In these cases, a skin rash may develop or the person may have difficulty breathing. Dizziness or loss of consciousness are symptoms of a more severe response that could be life-threatening. Anaphylactic shock is a sign of a severe food allergy and is considered to be a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment. Swelling of the face and throat can occur, presenting the danger of asphyxiation.

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