What Is A Caffeine Allergy?
A caffeine allergy is an adverse reaction to caffeine. The exact cause of caffeine allergy is not well understood, but it is believed to be an immune system response to the caffeine molecule or other compounds found in caffeinated beverages or foods. Caffeine allergy is rare, and it is more commonly associated with sensitivity or intolerance rather than a true allergy. However, whether you are allergic to caffeine or just suffer from sensitivity, symptoms may be uncomfortable. It’s important to consult with an allergist for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.
Caffeine Allergy Symptoms
- Skin rashes or hives
- Itching or eczema-like reactions
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face (angioedema)
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
- Anxiety or restlessness
While extremely rare, some people may experience a severe allergic reaction to caffeine called anaphylaxis. If you experience any caffeine allergy symptoms, stop drinking coffee and any products that may contain caffeine. You should also discuss your symptoms with an allergy specialist, who may recommend allergy testing.
Caffeine Allergy Diagnosis
An allergist can diagnose caffeine allergy through different methods of allergy testing. Blood testing is a safe and accurate way to diagnose caffeine allergy. During a blood test, a sample of your blood is taken to a lab for examination. The test measures immunoglobulin E (IgE). IgE is an antibody that your immune system develops in reaction to a specific allergen. It may take up to three days to receive your test results.
During this time, your allergist may instruct you to refrain from consuming caffeine. It’s helpful to keep a food diary to log your drinks and meals and any symptoms you experience.
Caffeine Allergy Treatment
The best treatment for caffeine allergy is avoidance. However, if you do accidentally consume caffeine, then over-the-counter antihistamines may help reduce any itching, swelling, or hives. In the very rare case that you experience anaphylactic shock after consuming caffeine, this can be treated with an injection of epinephrine. Talk to your allergy specialist about carrying an EpiPen or Auvi-Q.
Caffeine Allergy Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Be Allergic to Caffeine?
If you experience allergy symptoms after consuming caffeine, you could be allergic to caffeine. Some individuals may also develop a sensitivity to caffeine.
Why Are People Allergic to Caffeine?
It is not known why people are allergic to caffeine. The immune system just mistakenly identifies caffeine as a harmful substance and elicits an immune response.
How Is Caffeine Allergy Diagnosed?
An allergist can diagnose caffeine allergy through allergy testing. Blood testing is the most common method of diagnosis. An elimination diet may also be helpful.
Is Caffeine Allergy Curable?
Caffeine allergy is not curable. However, there are ways to treat symptoms such as using topical and oral antihistamines.
How Common Are Caffeine Allergies?
Caffeine allergies are relatively rare compared to other allergies. Many adverse reactions to caffeine are actually due to sensitivities or intolerances rather than true allergies.
Can I Be Allergic to Coffee or Tea But Not Other Sources of Caffeine?
Yes, it is possible to have an allergic reaction specifically to coffee or tea while tolerating other sources of caffeine. This could be due to other ingredients present in those beverages, rather than caffeine itself.