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Allergy to MSG in Beer

By Diane Marks

Drinking beer that contains MSG, or monosodium glutamate, can trigger symptoms that resemble an allergic reaction, but is actually an intolerance. Allergy symptoms and food intolerance symptoms are similar and are easily confused for each other. If you develop adverse reactions after drinking beer that contains MSG, you may have intolerance to the MSG, the histamine or the yeast in the beverage. Make an appointment with your doctor to determine the exact cause of your symptoms.

Allergy Vs. Intolerance

An allergy and intolerance are confusing conditions that resemble one another but have very different causes. An allergic reaction is an immune system reaction to a substance that the immune system accidentally identifies as dangerous. Intolerance is not caused by an immune system reaction, but rather an inability to digest certain ingredients, proteins or sugars found in some foods, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. Beer contains various ingredients that can trigger common food intolerance symptoms.

MSG Intolerance

MSG is a food additive that helps enhance the flavor in foods and is mostly found in Chinese cuisine. Symptoms that develop from MSG intolerance are caused by a chemical reaction that MSG causes in some people’s bodies. MayoClinic.com reports that the most common symptoms of an adverse reaction to MSG include flushing, sweating, headaches, facial pressure, numbness, chest pain, nausea, numbness in the face neck and other parts of the body and bodily weakness. Symptoms can appear within 15 minutes of ingesting MSG or may take up to a few hours before symptoms develop.

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Histamine Intolerance

Beer contains histamine, a chemical that is naturally found in some foods and in the body. Histamine is used by the body to protect against infectious diseases, but too much histamine causes inflammation in soft tissues. Histamine is the primary chemical that causes most allergic reaction symptoms. If you’re sensitive to histamine, drinking beer can cause similar symptom to develop that are similar to an allergy. Symptoms include a rapid heart rate, flushing skin, wheezing and fainting.

Yeast Allergy and Intolerance

Drinking beer can cause adverse reactions if you have a yeast allergy or intolerance. Yeast is the primary ingredient used during the fermentation process of making beer. If you’re allergic to yeast, drinking even a small amount of beer can trigger mild to severe symptoms, depending on the severity of your allergy. Yeast intolerance will mainly cause digestive symptoms, such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and stomach pain.

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