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Psyllium Husk Allergy

By Diane Marks

Although uncommon, you may experience an allergic reaction while taken psyllium husk supplements. Psyllium is an herb that is considered to be very high in fiber. The husk of the plant is ground into a powder that is used in dietary supplements to soften stool and promote healthy bowel movements. Although MedlinePlus states that psyllium husk is considered safe for most people, if you experience an adverse reaction after taking the supplement, discontinue use and talk with a doctor.

Cause

If you are allergic to psyllium, your immune system overreacts to the proteins found in the herb. The body fails to recognize the herb as a safe substance and begins to defend itself. The immune system produces antibodies that attack the proteins found in psyllium husk. This chemical release into the blood leads to increased histamine production in the mast cells. High levels of histamine are what cause most allergic reaction symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Symptoms

An allergic reaction to psyllium husk may result in symptoms within a few minutes after ingesting the herb. Common first symptoms of an allergic reaction to psyllium husk are shortness of breath, itching and a rash, according to Aetna’s IntelliHealth. Other symptoms may include vomiting, cramping, bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea, chest pain, dizziness, wheezing and eczema.

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Severe Allergic Reaction Consideration

As with any food-related allergy, you may experience anaphylactic shock from a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylactic shock is an extreme allergic reaction that affects the entire body. Histamine is released throughout the body at very high levels, leading to swelling in the throat, lips or tongue, shortness of breath, hives, a sudden drop in blood pressure and an increased heart rate. Anaphylactic shock can result in death. Call for emergency medical attention if these symptoms develop.

Treatment

Mild allergic reactions can be treated with oral antihistamines. Antihistamines block the body from creating histamine, which causes most allergic symptoms. Skin rashes from a psyllium husk allergy can be treated with hydrocortisone creams. Hydrocortisone is a milk steroid that reduces skin inflammation and itching. Anaphylactic shock is treated with an injection of epinephrine. Talk with your doctor before using any medication.

Identification

If you suspect you have an allergy to psyllium husk, talk with an allergist. An allergist is the most qualified medical professional to diagnose and treat a psyllium husk allergy. Allergy testing will be performed with a skin test and blood test.

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