Garlic allergy is a common phenomenon affecting many people around the world. Although this allergy can cause breathing difficulties, there are ways to prevent and control garlic-related allergic reactions.
Symptoms and causes of garlic allergy
Symptoms of garlic allergy can vary according to the individual and the severity of the reaction. Common symptoms include:
- Breathing difficulty: As with other food allergies, inhalation or ingestion of garlic can cause airway constriction and make breathing difficult.
- Swelling: Contact with garlic may cause swelling of the lips, tongue or face in some people.
- Itching: Garlic allergy can cause itchy skin, especially when garlic comes into direct contact with the skin.
- Eczema: Reddish rashes or dry patches may appear when exposed to garlic.
- Headaches: Ingestion of garlic can trigger headaches in some people.
The exact causes of garlic allergy are not yet clear, although some studies suggest that the protein alliin lyase is responsible for allergic reactions. Other research suggests that individuals with a family history of food allergies are more likely to develop garlic allergy.
Finding the right treatment
If you think you may be allergic to garlic, it’s crucial to consult a doctor or allergist to confirm the diagnosis and discuss appropriate treatment options. Your healthcare professional can use a variety of methods to determine whether you have a garlic allergy, including:
- Skin test: Diluted garlic extract is applied to the skin, usually the forearm, to see if a reaction occurs.
- Blood test: A specific blood test (called Immunoglobulin E) can be performed to detect the presence of garlic-specific antibodies in your body.
- Avoidance diet : It may be necessary to follow a garlic-free diet for a few weeks to see if symptoms disappear or diminish.
Depending on your diagnosis, your doctor or allergist will be able to advise you on treatment and preventive measures. It’s important to work closely with your healthcare professional to find the treatment that’s right for you.
The best way to avoid allergic reactions to garlic is to minimize your exposure to the food. To do this:
- Check food labels carefully for the presence of garlic.
- Find out which ready-made meals usually contain garlic, and avoid them.
- When eating out, tell the waiters about your allergy so they can help you choose a garlic-free dish.
- Keep a list of foods that are safe to eat in case of need.
- Educate your family and friends about your allergy so they can also be vigilant when cooking for you.
2. Symptom management
If, despite these precautions, you come into contact with garlic and develop allergy symptoms, it’s essential to know how to manage these reactions effectively:
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines are oral medications designed to relieve mild to moderate symptoms of food allergy, such as itching and swelling.
- Corticosteroids: In case of skin rashes or eczema due to garlic allergy, your doctor may prescribe local corticosteroids to relieve inflammation and itching.
- Bronchodilators: For people with garlic allergy-related breathing difficulties, a bronchodilator inhaler, such as Ventolin, can help relax airway muscles and make breathing easier.
- Adrenaline (epinephrine): In severe cases of allergic reaction to garlic, an injection of adrenaline (epinephrine) may be administered. If you are at risk of developing a severe reaction, your doctor will probably recommend that you carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) with you in case of accidental exposure to garlic.
Garlic allergy: learning to live with it
Living with a garlic allergy may seem complex, but it’s perfectly possible to lead a normal life if you take certain precautions. Educating yourself about the ingredients present in foods, avoiding high-risk garlic exposure situations and working with your doctor to find the best treatment are important steps in effectively managing this allergy.