Allergy to Honey: Underlying Allergy to Pollen
Honey is a sweet food substance produced by bees and related insect that use nectar from flowering plants. Apart from sugar, honey contains vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants, which makes it a great natural treatment. Honey is commonly used as a remedy for cough. Honey is a healthier choice than sugar or artificial sweeteners, as it can offer various natural health benefits. However, this food can also trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Experts believe that an allergy to honey is actually an allergy to pollen. This is because honey can be contaminated with bee pollen or pollen from other plants during the production process.
Plants whose pollen may be present in honey include: buckwheat, tulips, eucalyptus, sunflowers, willow, hackberry, oak, and any other plants growing in the area.
If you have a pollen allergy, certain types of honey may cause you to develop an allergy. If so, the allergen that affect you is rather pollen than the honey itself.
What Symptoms Does an Allergic Reaction to Honey Cause?
Usually, people who develop a reaction to honey experience symptoms quite similar to those of pollen allergy. The symptoms include: runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, swelling, itchy and watery eyes, itchy throat, rash, and hives.
However, the symptoms usually depend on the severity of the reaction. Severe reactions may cause symptoms like: headaches, wheezing, tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and anaphylaxis.
An allergic reaction can be triggered by both ingesting honey and coming into contact with it. If exposure to this sweetener leads to abnormal reactions, you may want to contact your doctor. If not treated in time, allergy symptoms may lead to more serious health problems.
Is Honey Safe for Children?
Normally, eating honey is safe for health, though specialists don’t recommend feeding honey to infants younger than one year. This is because honey might contain the bacteria called Clostridium, which is found in dust and dirt. It doesn’t possess any threat to adults or older children, whose immune and digestive systems are mature enough.
If you give food that contains Clostridium to a young baby, he or she can develop infant botulism. In this case, the bacteria multiply in the intestines and lead to problems with the nervous system. This condition is rare, but it may a cause of life-threatening symptoms, such as muscle weakness and breathing issues. Fatal consequences are also possible.
Other symptoms of infant botulism may include: weak cry, difficulty swallowing, poor feeding, constipation, flat facial expression, and decreased movement.
You can treat infant botulism using medication, but it must be done quickly. If your child experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should seek medical help immediately. In general, doctors recommend not giving honey to your baby until they become older than 12 months.
How to Treat an Allergic Reaction to Honey?
The symptoms of an allergy, that you experience after eating honey, can be treated by over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl. In case, the symptoms persist for more than an hour, you should seek medical help.
The Bottom Line
If you are allergic to honey, you most likely have an underlying allergy to pollen or another substance. People who are at risk for an allergic reaction may want to avoid eating honey. Ask your doctor about your condition and your treatment options.