Garlic Allergy

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If you have a physical reaction after consuming garlic or its products, you may have a garlic allergy. Interestingly, garlic is part of the lily family; so if you suffer from a garlic allergy, you may also be allergic to onions, leeks, chives, and shallots.  

Garlic can be ingested in a variety of forms, which makes garlic allergies hard to identify without proper knowledge or testing by an allergist. These forms include the bulb, oil, and powder. Garlic is also found in many processed foods. The allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers understand the difficulties faced living with a garlic allergy. That is why we have provided a garlic allergy food list, as well as a list of garlic alternatives that you can enjoy. Let us help you navigate through this difficult allergy with ease.

Garlic Allergy Foods To Avoid

Canned Soup Salad Dressing and Other Sauces
Boxed Pasta Certain Types of Butter
Boxed Rice Most Italian Foods
Frozen Entrees Most Indian Foods

Alternatives To Garlic

Cumin Indian Curry
Fennel Oregano
Chili Pepper Basil
Paprika Asafetida

Garlic Allergy Symptoms

  • Asthma
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Hives or garlic allergy rash
  • Nausea
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling of the lips or tongue
  • Anaphylaxis

The most common symptoms of a garlic allergy are asthma and contact dermatitis. Very rarely does a garlic allergy result in more severe symptoms. You could also just have a garlic intolerance. In this case, symptoms will be mild including heartburn or stomach cramps. Sometimes an allergy can be confused with an intolerance, so it’s important to visit a food allergy specialist for a diagnosis. If you experience the above symptoms after eating garlic, seek medical treatment immediately.

Garlic Allergy Diagnosis

An oral food challenge and elimination diet are the only accurate garlic allergy testing to diagnose a garlic allergy sensitivity. During a food challenge, your allergist will expose you to garlic in a clinical setting to see if it causes an allergic reaction. Food challenges can be dangerous so, they are only performed in a clinical setting with trained medical personnel. Your doctor will hand emergency medical equipment on hand to treat any symptoms that may occur.

In contrast, an elimination diet requires you to refrain from eating garlic and its products to see if your garlic allergy reaction subsides. During this time, it’s helpful to keep a food journal and keep track of what you’re eating. Elimination diets usually last for about two weeks. This is the safer option of the two and your allergist will suggest an elimination diet if they suspect a severe allergic reaction will arise during a food challenge. After the allotted time, your allergist will determine if it’s safe to continue eating garlic or if you need to eliminate it from your diet entirely.

Garlic Allergy Treatment

The best treatment for garlic allergy is avoidance. When dining out, tell restaurant staff about your allergy to make sure that no pre-made foods or sauces contain garlic. Use alternative spices to flavor your food.

Most cases of garlic allergies are mild and can be treated with antihistamines, so it’s helpful to keep them with you. Over the counter medications may be strong enough, but you can also get prescribed medications to treat your symptoms. Prescribed medications are necessary for asthma and some case of contact dermatitis. If you suffer from allergic asthma, your allergist will recommend an inhaled corticosteroid.

For more serious allergic reactions to garlic, ask your allergist about an epinephrine injection like Auvi-Q or Epipen. You should carry your epinephrine to treat symptoms related to anaphylaxis. Train your friends and family how to administer the medication in case you can’t do it yourself.

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