Garlic Allergy Explained - Allergy Test

Garlic is a bulbous herb from the lily family. It is used to flavor food and can be used in powder, oil, or natural form. Garlic adds a pungent yet savory flavor to food. Even though it is a great spice, garlic isn’t for everyone, especially those that suffer from garlic allergy. Garlic allergy is uncommon, but it can be dangerous.

When one has a garlic allergy, it means that they are allergic to garlic either in its cooked form, raw form, or both. Besides the uses of garlic in adding flavor to food, it is also great for other potential benefits like lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol{1}. True garlic allergies are rare as most people with issues towards garlic suffer from an intolerance.

 

Causes of garlic allergy

When you’re allergic to garlic, it’s because your immune system has identified this spice as something harmful. It then releases antibodies to fight it, which in turn cause the physical symptoms we refer to as garlic allergy symptoms. When the immune system creates antibodies to fight something that isn’t harmful, that’s called an allergy.

To experience an allergic reaction to garlic, you don’t need to consume a large amount of it, as symptoms can occur even from handling the food. Food allergies affect around 8% of children and 3% of adults. Garlic allergy is relatively rare compared to other food allergies like nuts, milk, and eggs.

Sometimes you can have reactions to garlic that can’t be classified as an allergy but rather a garlic intolerance. An intolerance to garlic may cause bowel issues like gas, diarrhea, indigestion, and stomach pain. Unlike food allergies, food intolerances aren’t as severe and don’t stem from the immune system.

 

Garlic allergy symptoms

An allergy happens when one comes in contact with something that the body considers foreign. The severity of an allergic reaction depends on the individual. The most common garlic allergy symptom is asthma and contact dermatitis. Some people can also get a garlic allergy rash or a garlic allergy sore throat. Other symptoms include:

  • Inflammation, hives, itching, and skin redness
  • Swelling and tingling sensation around the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, and face
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing

The most severe reaction one can get because of garlic allergy is anaphylaxis{2}. Anaphylaxis is life-threatening, and if someone close to you experiences it, it is best to call emergency services. It can cause the throat to swell, preventing one from breathing. If you’re allergic to garlic, the above symptoms may occur a few minutes to several hours after touching, ingesting, or smelling garlic.

 

Foods to avoid when you have a garlic allergy

Garlic is used to flavor so many dishes, and even though a person with intolerance might be able to consume garlic in small amounts, garlic allergy won’t allow it. There are meals notoriously known for having garlic as an essential ingredient, like:

  • Pasta
  • Chutneys
  • Soups
  • Sauces
  • Butters and oils

To be extra careful when eating out, always ensure you request for your meals not to include garlic. Since you can’t control what spices others put in their foods, it is better to ask in advance so you can avoid those with garlic.

When you’re allergic to garlic, you’ll also need to stay away from other vegetables in the garlic family. That’s because garlic is part of the allium family, meaning that you may have an allergic reaction to different foods in this family. The proteins or allergens in the allium family are similar, and your immune system may react the same way. Such a reaction is known as cross-reactivity. Vegetables in the allium family include:

  1. Chives
  2. Onions
  3. Leek
  4. Shallots
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Our Allergy Test Box Kit

Before you consume these vegetables, you’ll need to know whether they cause adverse reactions to you or not. You can quickly know this for sure by getting an Allergy Test online.

If you aren’t sure whether a particular food contains garlic and onions as ingredients, you can always call the toll-free number on most food packages and inquire directly from them. Sometimes processed foods don’t state garlic as an ingredient, but it’s always insinuated when you see the term “seasonings” or “flavorings.”

Garlic is the main ingredient in ethnic cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, and Italian. So, when eating out, you’ll need to mention your garlic allergy to the server. If you ever feel you’re in doubt, avoid the meal.

 

Garlic allergy substitute

When looking to spice up your food, other spices can help replace the absence of garlic. These include:

  • Chilli pepper
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Fennel
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Curry

When using these spices, you can keep experimenting with their dry forms and fresh versions to get the density of spiciness you need in your meals.

 

Garlic allergy testing

You can easily do a garlic Allergy Test from the comfort of your home. You’ll need to order an Allergy Test online, which will be delivered to your doorstep within three days. You can then send back your sample to the lab for testing, and you’ll get your results within a week. This test will help you determine whether you have a garlic allergy or not and will also check for other common food allergens.

Once you get your results and they are positive, it is recommended that you avoid all forms of garlic. Once you do so, you should find that the symptoms will disappear.

 

How to treat garlic allergy symptoms

If you ever have anaphylaxis due to garlic allergy, you will need immediate medical attention from a doctor as such a situation is dire. It is best to carry around an EpiPen to administer first aid. An EpiPen offers quick relief from symptoms of garlic allergy, but even after using it, you’ll need to go to the doctor’s office for observation. If you have mild garlic allergy reactions, there’s no need to panic. You will recover within no time, but you can take over-the-counter antacids to help with the symptoms.

The best garlic allergy cure of all is to ensure you don’t come into contact with garlic. This means avoiding garlic oil, powder, and the bulb itself. On the other hand, if you’re intolerant, you can always experiment with the amount of garlic your body can tolerate before it flares up. Sometimes garlic allergy causes the development of asthma. In such cases, your doctor will recommend the best medicine for that.

 

How to manage a garlic allergy

Considering it is difficult to cure allergies, avoiding this bulbous spice is the best way to live without getting garlic allergy symptoms. Here are some tips that will help you steer clear of it.

  1. Thoroughly clean the counter surfaces once someone else has cooked to avoid contact with garlic.
  2. Wash dishes thoroughly before cooking with them, especially if you don’t live alone.
  3. Always be upfront with others informing them of your garlic allergy when eating at their place so that they can avoid using the spice.
  4. Only eat party foods when you’re sure about each ingredient that went into the making. If you’re not sure, it is best to steer clear.
  5. Always let the chefs in restaurants know about your garlic allergy and ask them to cook your food separately from others.
  6. If you ever have a severe garlic allergy reaction, it is best to call 911 right away and let the doctor observe you until the symptoms decline.

 

Final thoughts on garlic allergy

Garlic is a common component in many popular meals, which is why it is important to consider your method of managing your diet if you experience a garlic allergy.

If your child has a garlic allergy,  they may outgrow it in their teenage years. If your child has a garlic allergy, it is advised that you consult with their doctor to determine when to reintroduce garlic to determine if they have outgrown the issue.

Avoiding this spice can be difficult hence why you’ll need to explain everywhere you eat about your allergy. The best way to determine if you’re truly allergic to garlic is by taking an Allergy Test. A simple test will help decide whether or not you’re allergic to garlic, the entire allium family, or other foods.

 

About the Author

Kate Young joined Healthy Stuff in 2021 as our Laboratory Manager, following 7 years in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) for the Oak Clinic Group in Japan. Whilst working in embryology, Kate worked on 14 different publications, including ‘trophectoderm biopsy and human blastocyst development,’ and talked at the ‘European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.’ Kate is a trusted member of the Healthy Stuff team, and her attention to detail ensures that each test is in safe hands and able to be validated. Kates enjoys working with the management team and has a close relationship with Dr. Fornari in the lab team. See Kates Healthy Stuff profile here.

 

References

  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Garlic. Source: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic.
  2. Anaphylaxis Campaign. Onion and Garlic. Source: https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk/knowledgebase/onion-and-garlic-allergy/.