Citric acid allergy is a relatively rare type of allergy that affects less than 1% of the population. Citric acid is a type of acid that is found in various natural sources, such as citrus fruits like oranges, guavas, etc. It is also found in large quantities in lemons. This condition leads to an allergic reaction that can range from mild chest discomfort to a full-blown anaphylactic reaction. Hence, it is important that this condition, though rare, be taken seriously as it could lead to a lot of avoidable complications. Given below are the symptoms of a citric acid allergic reaction and how to differentiate this condition from another similar condition known as citric acid intolerance.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction vary greatly. In fact, even the time when a person starts to show signs of an allergic reaction vary greatly, that is, at times, a person may suffer from an allergic reaction to citric acid as soon as it is ingested, or it may even take a few hours for the symptoms to show up. The severity of symptoms experienced by a person also varies from very mild to life-threatening. A citric acid allergy may manifest in the form of skin rashes that cause redness on an area of the skin, which may even be raised. This reaction may resemble hives and may or may not be accompanied by swelling of limbs, mouth, tongue, and eyelids. If the swelling is seen in the facial region, then one should become alert, as excessive tongue swelling could lead to difficulty in breathing.
The breathing of a person may or may not be affected. The person may have a runny nose, congestion, cough, teary eyes, etc. Ear infections and bronchitis may also occur. However, an allergic reaction to citric acid almost invariably causes some amount of stomach distress. This could lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, etc. There may also be some amount of bloating in the abdominal region. A person may also have neurological symptoms like moodiness, anxiety and panic attacks, bouts of crying, etc.
Citric Acid Allergy vs. Citric Acid Intolerance
Contrary to what most people think, citric acid allergy is not the same as citric acid intolerance. People who suffer from allergy to citric acid tend to be allergic to specific substances present in citrus fruits, such as limonene or specific substances found in fruits. However, people who are intolerant to citric acid react to citric acid itself, which is found in fruits and vegetables and even when it is used as a food additive. Intolerance to citric acid is not a true food allergy. This is because the body does not react in the form of an autoimmune response to chemicals present in food. Intolerance is seen when the body lacks certain chemicals or enzymes that are required for a particular substance to get digested. It is important to manage food intolerance properly as ingestion of substances that a person is intolerant to can land the person with a damaged inner lining of the gut. This could lead to actual allergies for the person. A food intolerance reaction, unlike an allergic reaction, will depend on the amount of substance that the person has ingested.
There are many cases where a person may not have a true allergy to a substance, so it is very important that a person try and track whether he has a true allergy or not. So, for this, one should consult an allergist so that testing for citric acid allergy can be done and then the condition can be treated accordingly.