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Allergy to Rice Milk

By Sharon Perkins

People who have a milk allergy are no more likely to have an allergy to rice milk than those with no such problem, because rice milk contains no dairy products. Rice milk comes from the rice plant, so if you’re allergic to rice, you can’t drink rice milk. While as many as 25 percent of people believe they have food allergies, only 4 to 8 percent of children and 2 percent of adults actually have a food allergy, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Prevalence

Rice allergy occurs more frequently in countries where the general population consumes large amounts of rice, such as Japan, where 10 percent of the natives have a rice allergy, according to gulfMD. Rice allergy is rare in the United States. If both your parents have food allergies, you have around a 75 percent chance of having food allergies also, but you may not have the same allergies, the University of Maryland states. Unlike many allergies, rice allergy occurs more often in adults than in children.

Differentials

Food intolerance can cause indigestion when drinking rice milk if your body has trouble digesting some of the components in rice, but this is not a true allergic reaction. Rice pollen from the rice plant can cause an allergic reaction similar to that people experience with other pollens if inhaled, such as runny nose, sneezing, watery and reddened eyes and difficulty breathing.

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Symptoms

Symptoms of rice milk allergy occur within 30 minutes to hours after drinking rice milk and include hives; facial swelling, especially around the eyes and mouth; itching; wheezing; difficulty breathing; throat swelling; lightheadedness; fast heartbeat; nausea; vomiting; stomach cramping; and diarrhea. In severe cases, your skin may turn blue from lack of oxygen and you could collapse. Severe allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis, are life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical attention.

Cross-Reactions

If you have an allergic reaction to rice milk, avoid all rice products, including those made from rice flours, found in rice noodles and in spring rolls. Foods in the same family such as corn, barley, wheat, maize, soybean, oats, rye and triticale may also cause an allergic reaction. People with rice allergy may also suffer reactions to peaches and apples. Some people with rice allergies can eat wild rice, but others can’t.

Considerations

You may benefit from seeing an allergist who can do skin testing for allergies to other substances if you have an allergy to rice milk. If you have a severe rice allergy, read food labels carefully and carry an epinephrine pen for injection at all times, since rice flour may be hidden in some foods. In Japan, where rice is a common allergen, researchers have developed genetically engineered rice that lowers the amount of proteins thought to be responsible for most allergic reactions.

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