Acacia shrub, which grows primarily in Southern California, creates allergic reactions in some people. The allergic pollen, which is produced from the acacia in springtime, may trigger many acacia allergy symptoms like asthma and hay fever. Many people are allergic to gum acacia, used as an additive in several foods and beverages. It is made from the sap.
Gum acacia is also known as gum Arabic. It can be used as an emulsifier in mayonnaise and ice creams. It is a good stabilizer to maintain foam on soda and beer. Gum acacia acts as a glazing agent and demulcent to soothe irritated tissues and as a thickener in gum and candies.
Cause of acacia allergy
The reason of gum acacia allergy is similar to all other food allergies. Our immune system wrongly identifies the food additive called gum acacia that is used in number of food products and produces antibodies against it. It leads to the release of allergy causing chemicals, especially histamine into the body, which results in allergic reactions.
Diagnosis of acacia allergy
Identifying foods that may have caused an attack by conducting skin test is a method to diagnose the allergy. However, it is not so easy in food allergies. In some special cases, an oral challenge is preferred, in which the patient ingests the additive under the close supervision of an allergist or a doctor.
Prevention of acacia allergy
Food additives like gum acacia are very common in several prepared foods and restaurant dishes. Therefore, buying natural and unprocessed foods and prepare them at ourselves at home is the best method to prevent allergy. You have to read the labels of packed food very carefully before eating it.
Treatment for acacia allergy
Proper treatment for additive allergy is to avoid the allergen. If it is not possible always, treatments, which depend upon the nature and severity of the reaction, can be taken. For mild and self-limiting reactions, treatment is not required. Antihistamines are usually used to reduce the skin related symptoms and allergic rhinitis. Nasal sprays, including antihistamines and topical steroids are effective for treating allergic rhinitis. Several types of eye drops are available for allergic conjunctivitis.
For asthma symptoms and wheezing, asthma medications such as inhaled beta agonists are used. Oral steroids are also applied in short courses for mild asthma symptoms and skin problems. For severe symptom, anaphylaxis, adrenalin injection is taken as a temporary relief prior to hospital care. Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment for curing allergy. In this treatment, a small amount of allergen is injected in the body of the patient for a long period by increasing the amount gradually. It lasts till the patient shows tolerance to the allergen.
Symptoms of acacia allergy
Acacia allergy symptoms vary from mild to severe reactions. The nature of symptoms depends upon whether the allergen is gum acacia or acacia pollen. If the symptoms are related to gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and stomach cramps, the allergen will be gum acacia. Other allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, itchy eyes, hives, skin rashes, eczema, swelling of lips, tongue, mouth and face etc are due to acacia pollen.
Acacia pollen also causes many respiratory symptoms like wheezing, sneezing, cough and other asthma related symptoms. As with any allergy, there is possibility of anaphylaxis in critical situation. It includes several symptoms such as shortness of breath, fainting, fatigue, difficulty in breathing, loss of consciousness etc. This life-threatening complication needs urgent medical assistance.
Even though you can prevent acacia allergy through strict precautions, you should consult a doctor for medical advice, if you severely suffer from allergic reactions.