Cinnamon Allergy as a Common Type of Spice Allergies
Cinnamon is one of the most commonly used spiced in the world. It can be found in many baked goods, applesauce, flavored hot beverages, etc. However, some people may develop an allergic reaction when exposed to cinnamon. If you have a cinnamon allergy, you may need to avoid this spice in your diet.
What Are the Sources of Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is made from the bark of trees associated with China, India, and Southeast Asia. People have been using cinnamon in traditional medicine, but there is a lack of studies supporting its medicinal properties.
Cinnamon can be added to many different foods and non-food products. Common sources of cinnamon include: baked goods (e.g. pastries, cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, etc.), oatmeal, breakfast cereals, candies, flavored coffee, flavored tea, applesauce, chewing gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cinnamon Allergy?
About 2 percent of people with allergies have spice allergies. This type of food allergy is often underdiagnosed, because it can be hard to identify a spice allergy in skin and blood tests.
An allergy to cinnamon is rare and affects a very small percentage of people. The symptoms may occur after ingesting or coming into direct contact with cinnamon. An allergic reaction to cinnamon causes the following symptoms: swelling of the lips, tongue, face, and other parts of the body, itching, hives, nasal congestion, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and fainting.
Sometimes, a reaction to cinnamon may cause an anaphylactic shock, which is a medical emergency. The treatment requires an immediate injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) and a follow-up medical care.
What Triggers the Allergic Reaction?
Apart from natural cinnamon spice, an allergic reaction can also be triggered by artificial cinnamon flavor added to chewing guns, toothpaste, and mouthwashes, but this is rare. Such a reaction is called contact stomatitis, and it often leads to burning or itching in the mouth. Fortunately, the symptoms normally improve, if you stop exposing yourself to cinnamon flavor.
Some fragrances contain cinnamyl alcohol or cinnamaldehyde, which is also a potential trigger of a reaction.
An allergic reaction to cinnamon may cause different symptoms ranging from mild nasal congestion to severe anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an emergency that requires an immediate medical help. An anaphylactic reaction is a result of your body trying to neutralize the allergen with antibodies. The release of antibodies can be triggered by minimal contact with the allergen. Besides, the amount of the allergen required to trigger a reaction may be reduced each time you are exposed to it.
How to Diagnose a Cinnamon Allergy?
An allergy to cinnamon can be diagnosed using various types of allergy testing. A blood test may show whether you are allergic to cinnamon, based on the levels of antibodies in your blood. A skin prick test can help to understand what kind of symptoms you develop after contact with the allergen.
If you notice having allergy-like symptoms after eating cinnamon, you may want to arrange a visit to your doctor. The specialist can help to determine the cause and choose an appropriate treatment.
How Is a Cinnamon Allergy Treated?
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to cinnamon can be reduced by taking a medication Benadryl. Usually, it takes about 15 minutes for the medicine to start working.
If you have a history of mild reactions to cinnamon and know that you will be exposed to the allergen again, you can take an antihistamine. This medicine will help to reduce the severity of the symptoms you may develop.
If a reaction to an allergen causes difficulty breathing, you should seek medical help immediately.
How Can You Control Your Allergy to Cinnamon?
If you have a cinnamon allergy, you and your allergist should be working together to develop a plan of action. Normally, experts recommend that people allergic to cinnamon avoid or limit your exposure to this spice.
To do so, you should pay maximum attention to food ingredients labels, as well as labels on personal care products. Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require that allergenic spices are listed on the labels. Besides, fragrances and flavorings are often indicated in the ingredients list simply as “fragrance” or “flavoring”.
If you are eating out, inform the restaurant staff about your allergy and ask that your food is completely free of cinnamon. When traveling, make sure to plan ahead what and where you’re going to eat.
The Bottom Line
Being allergic to cinnamon may require you to accept certain limitation in your diet and personal care. However, this allergy can still be kept under control. If you think that you might have a cinnamon allergy, talk to your doctor about. He will help to identify your condition and tell you how to keep the symptoms at bay.
Together with your allergist, you can design a personalized allergy treatment plan that will help to control your allergy. Remember that you are not alone.