Health Points to Understand About Salicylate Allergy: Causes, Symptoms and Foods to Avoid

Salicylate Allergy

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Food intolerances and sensitivities are fairly common yet they can be hard to discover.

While reaction to salicylates, otherwise called salicylate allergy, isn’t as known as lactose or gluten intolerance, it’s a growing concern for certain individuals.

Salicylates are natural elements found in food, drugs and different items that can lead to a variety of responses in individuals who are sensitive to it.

Salicylate allergy or sensitivity is related to a wide range of symptoms, and that’s why it’s so difficult to distinguish.

This article clarifies how salicylate allergy is caused, and what are the manifestations of salicylate intolerance, including which substances contain salicylates.

What Are Salicylates?

Salicylates are chemicals found in plants, fruits and vegetables, buts, seeds, spices and honey. It is said that plants produce salicylates to defend themselves.

Other than in foods, salicylates are also artificially created for use in drugs and cosmetics.

Exposure to both forms of salicylates can cause a reaction in certain individuals.

Salicylates are very high in Aspirin in the form of salicylic acid, so more often than not, people would discover they are reacting to salicylates following an intake of medication containing salicylates as the reaction would normally be stronger and clearer than consuming it through a piece of fruit.

What Causes Salicylate Sensitivity?

The thing is with salicylate intolerance is that some people can consume low to moderate salicylates every day and not exhibit any symptoms, while others can’t tolerate even a small amount.

For others, it will be a build-up of salicylates that will cause symptoms. They may get away with having a bit of salicylates here and there, but once they go over a certain threshold, they will react.

Salicylate sensitivity has been identified in research as the cause of about 60% of people with itchy rash, headaches or migraines, 20% of adults with asthma, 75% of children with behavioural problems, and 70% of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.

Salicylate intolerance occurs when salicylates are not metabolised effectively and it is believed to be connected to an overproduction of leukotrienes.

Symptoms of Salicylate Sensitivity

It’s possible to see the manifestation of salicylate sensitivity as a variety of symptoms. It is also easy to confuse it with other allergies and illnesses.

Some people may only experience symptoms when they’re under stress, their immune system is down or when they’re reacting to an unrelated allergy, which makes it hard to diagnose.

Common symptoms include:

  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Flatulence
  • Blocked nose or sneezing
  • Inflammation
  • Rosacea
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • ADHD

The above lists the common symptoms, yet each person might experience different symptoms.

The level of salicylates that starts a reaction depends on the ability of the body to deal with them.

Some people can react straight after consuming salicylates and others would only show symptoms after a few hours or the following day. It can take up to 72 hours for the symptoms to subside after an exposure.

What Foods Are Known To Contain Salicylates?

Fruits, some vegetables and spices generally contain the highest levels of salicylates, but they are also high in oils, vinegar, sausages, soft drinks and chewing gum.

Foods highest in salicylates include:

  • Fruits: Avocado, date, grapes, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, mandarin, orange, passion fruit, pineapple, plum, raisins, raspberry, strawberry, rock melon, lychee, nectarine.
  • Vegetables: Broad bean, Broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, eggplant, olives, tomato, spinach, mushrooms, corn, onion, radish, sweet potato, artichokes, zucchini.
  • Spices: aniseed, allspice, dill, five spice, cardamom, garam masala, ginger, caraway, bay-leaf, cayenne, oregano, paprika, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, curry, nutmeg, pepper, mace, mint, mixed herbs, mustard, rosemary, sage, tumeric.
  • Other sources: coconut oil, pickles, sesame oil, walnut oil, macadamias, cordials, vinegar, pecans, peanuts, mints, stock cubes, almonds, rum, honey, jam, port, wine, brandy, chewing gum, cider, and gravies.

This list doesn’t include all foods containing salicylates, but it lists the main ones.

Other than foods, salicylates are known to be found also in the following products:

  • Toothpaste
  • Perfumes and essential oils
  • Conditioners and shampoos
  • Make-up and lotions
  • Mouthwash products
  • Medications
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