Overview

In an Onion Allergy, the immune system of the body reacts to onion as a harmful or dangerous substance. Onions are part of the allium family, a plant group that includes onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, and chives. Onions are a commonly used ingredient in food and are a popular addition to a broad range of cooked dishes. The result of this is allergic symptoms that can be severe.

The difference with this specific allergy is that it does tend to be something that very few people know about. So what actually happens and how serious can this reaction potentially be?

What is Onion Allergy?

In an onion allergy, the immune system of the body reacts to onion as a harmful or dangerous substance. The result of this is allergic symptoms that can be severe. This is because of cross-reactivity to raw onion and garlic, onion food, the onion plant, and substance that contain similar proteins.

While a number of people have heard of being allergic to peanuts. There are others who are suffering from an onion and garlic allergy. This can have the same effect on their health as somebody that suffers from a peanut allergy or almond allergy.

Onion allergy is also a form of food allergy. It can occur by food intolerance. Being allergic to onion is more common than a true allergy. It may be due to a stomach disorder when it does not digest a certain food.

How can you be allergic to onions?

A person may prove to be allergic to either raw onions or cooked onions, but it is more common for there to be a reaction to the raw variety. For most people, It is often due to reacting with unoffending proteins contained in the vegetable.

Basically, the body produces antibodies that go by the name of IgE antibodies and they then react against the proteins in the onion leading to the body producing excess amounts of Histamine from the pharynx, gut, and even the skin.

The problem with too much Histamine is that your body then has an unfavorable reaction to this. It is this reaction that appears as an allergic reaction.

A girl blows her nose in a handkerchief due to the onion allergy against the background on which lies an onion and lemon with laptop and books.

Onion Allergy Symptoms

This particular type of allergy is what is generally known as a contact allergy and the result of this is that the symptoms are very much as you would expect to get from dermatitis as it tends to affect the skin or the gut more than anywhere else on the body. This means that the most common allergy symptoms include:

  • Feeling itchy all over your body
  • The appearance of hives
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat, and face
  • Being bloated
  • Excess gas

Severe Onion Allergy Symptoms

But it is important to point out that a severe reaction, known as an acute reaction, is actually very rare when it comes to onions. Symptoms of an acute reaction include:

  • Changes to your breathing
  • Blood pressure dropping
  • Feeling very dizzy
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Stomach pain
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Finally being in a state of confusion

If you have severe reactions, such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, vomiting, or gastric distress that does not stop, seek immediate medical advice and help. 

How to avoid a reaction?

Onion does appear in so many items and it does of course mean that you need to spend time reading the ingredients carefully before you eat anything. It can appear in the form of onion powder. One point that should be mentioned is that quite often people are only allergic to the raw ingredient.

Raw onion is fine and free of allergy when it is cooked. So it may be beneficial to try them, and see how you feel after doing so. Apart from that it comes down to common sense and paying attention and you should be able to reduce the chances of having any kind of a reaction.

Raw Onion Allergy Treatment   

The best way to treat raw onion allergy is to avoid onions. Treating this reaction is a very simple process because in most instances Antihistamines will manage to clear up the allergy in a very short period of time. These tablets are available over the counter. So there will be no need to contact your allergist for a prescription until the reaction that you tend to have is life-threatening.

If you discover that you develop hives, then they can be helped by applying topical ointments or your doctor may decide to prescribe you some corticosteroids and this will ease the symptoms in next to no time as well. Your allergist can perform a blood test or skin test in order to identify your allergy.

If you are one of the few people that are at risk of suffering from anaphylactic shock, then you will be given a shot of epinephrine to carry about with you. This is self-injected with the result being it works on reducing the severity of the reaction in next to no time. This is the exact same thing as people that suffer from a peanut allergy are given and there is no doubt that it has saved countless lives over the year.

Intense scratching of arm by a woman who is itching from the onion allergy.

How serious is Onion Allergy?

An onion allergy is, in most instances, relatively mild and it will not cause you any long-term health problems with it being cured by simple Antihistamines that are available at any chemist. Only a small percentage of people will need to carry epinephrine and most people will only have some mild discomfort that will pass in the next to no time.

This type of allergy can, therefore, be summarized as follows: You are more likely to be allergic to raw onion and garlic rather than cooked. The allergy is due to the body’s reaction against proteins in the onion. Your body then produces too much Histamine making you feel unwell. Antihistamine is the most common treatment.

Ointment or steroids may be given to people that have a skin reaction. Epinephrine can be administered for the most serious of cases. Symptoms are usually gentle or light and an inconvenience rather than serious.

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