June 6, 2018

Do You Have a Garlic Allergy?

Do you tend to experience odd symptoms after eating garlic? According to specialists you might have a garlic allergy.

Garlic is one of the representatives of the lily plant family. Experts recommend eating garlic, as it helps to provide certain health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. You can use garlic fresh, powdered or in the form of oil to add flavor to your foods. Besides, it also available as a supplement.


In some people, exposure to garlic leads to abnormal reactions. In fact, there are two types of reactions to garlic: allergic (food allergy) and non-allergic (food intolerance or sensitivity). If you compare a garlic allergy and intolerance, the latter occurs more commonly.

Below, we will go through the causes and symptoms of both garlic allergies and intolerances, and provide some recommendations concerning the foods you should be avoiding with these conditions.

What Are the Symptoms of a Garlic Allergy and Garlic Intolerance?


An allergic reaction to garlic appears when the immune system in your body overreacts to a foreign substance that is normally harmless. As a result, your body releases antibodies which are responsible for various allergy symptoms. The symptoms of food allergies usually range from mild to severe. Even if your previous allergic reactions were mild, your next one can still be severe.

If you are allergic to garlic, you are likely to develop abdominal cramps and vomiting after eating this food. Other symptoms related to food allergies include: hives, tingling around the mouth area, wheezing, coughing, trouble swallowing, and dizziness.

In worst cases, eating garlic may lead to anaphylaxis. This a medical emergency whose typical symptoms include swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing.

When it comes to garlic intolerance, the symptoms are different. Unlike food allergies, food intolerance doesn’t involve your immune system. Instead, this condition is cause by your body’s inability to process certain food proteins.

People with a garlic intolerance often experience nausea, bloating, headaches, coughing, and a runny nose.

Normally, it takes longer for the symptoms of a food intolerance to appear, compared to those of an allergy. If you have a garlic allergy, you will develop the reaction soon after eating a garlic. However, if you have a garlic sensitivity, it may take a few hours until the symptoms occur.

Why Do Allergies Occur in the First Place?


If you have an allergy, your immune system perceives an allergen in the same way as foreign invaders like cold or flu virus. As a result, your body responses with a release of inflammatory immune cells, which leads to the development of allergy symptoms.

However, researchers are still not sure why exactly this happens. It is not yet understood why some of us are allergic to certain foods, while others are not.

There are some factors that increase the risks of developing an allergy though, for example, having asthma and eczema, a family history of allergies, etc.

Besides, food allergies are more common among children than adults, but some children may outgrow their allergies over time.

Which Food Should You Avoid If You Are Allergic to Garlic?


Garlic is commonly used as a seasoning all over the world. Therefore, you should be careful when buying foods, especially pre-made foods, sauces, and seasonings.

If you have a garlic intolerance, you may be able to eat small amounts without developing the symptoms. But if you have a garlic allergy, even tiny amounts of the allergen may trigger severe reactions.

Garlic is often found in chutneys, sauces, soups, pastas, butters, and oils.

Besides, if you are allergic to garlic, you may also be sensitive to onions, chives, leeks, and shallots, as they also belong to the lily family. This means you have to be careful with these foods too.

Keep in mind that sometimes, garlic and onion are mentioned in the ingredients lists under the terms like “seasonings” or “flavorings”. If you have any doubt about a food product, you can call a phone number provided on packaging.

When eating out, make sure to inform the restaurant staff about your allergy to garlic.

You may want to carry an allergy bracelet that helps to inform medical staff and start the treatment sooner, in case of an emergency.

How to Diagnose a Garlic Allergy?


If you think you may have an allergy to garlic, you should visit a doctor. The specialist will perform allergy testing.

There are various types of allergy tests. Blood testing involves taking a blood sample after you consume garlic, to determine the levels of antibodies. Skin prick testing involves pricking the skin and placing tiny amount of the allergen on the area. However, nowadays, there are no skin prick test that can be used to diagnose a garlic allergy.

The Bottom Line


An allergy to garlic is a rare condition, unlike a garlic intolerance.

To prevent the symptoms of allergy, you should avoid garlic in your diet, even though it may be difficult.

People who experience abnormal symptoms after consuming garlic should contact an allergist to get a proper diagnosis. If you have a severe type of a garlic allergy, your doctor may prescribe you an epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injector, such as EpiPen.

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