Is there really such a thing as a coffee allergy? Well, unfortunately for some, an allergy to coffee does occur. Unsurprisingly, the allergic reaction is not limited to drinking coffee. A coffee allergy can also occur if one has contact with coffee beans. An allergic person can also be exposed when using cosmetic products with coffee components.
The most common trigger of the allergic reaction to coffee is its caffeine content. Caffeine is a natural and powerful anti-oxidant. It has also been chemically synthesized for commercial use. Its chemical name is 1, 3 trimethylxanthine. In moderate quantities, it can produce a stimulating effect and bring about alertness and a burst of energy.
On the other hand if it is consumed by a person allergic to coffee, he or she will have rashes, swollen lips or tongue, and possibly wheezing as well. Digestive problems such as bloating, diarrhea, upset stomach, and hyperacidity may also be experienced.
Allergic contact dermatitis may also be present if the skin of an individual with coffee hypersensitivity comes in contact with coffee beans or even leftover coffee. This can be seen as rashes, swelling, itchiness, or hives on the skin. A prolonged contact may even result to blisters in extreme cases.
Several studies have also indicated coffee allergy to be the responsible party in some mood and anxiety disorders. Cases of manic-depressive disorders and an increased irritability have been noted symptoms of the allergy as well.
Sources of Caffeine
A few common sources of caffeine are coffee, some energy drinks, tea, chocolates, cola drinks, migraine medications, and diet pills. There are times when cross reactions with other plants can be expected with an allergy to coffee. Guarana, yerba mate, as well as Ilex Guayusa are the three most common plants which can cause a cross reaction. Cross reactions occur because there are similarities that can be seen among these plants. The similarities are primarily on the protein structure of its components. The immune system detects this resemblance as the same. Therefore, an allergic reaction can be expected to happen when a coffee allergic person consumes guarana, Ilex Guayusa, or yerba mate.
Risk Factors of Coffee Allergy
The development of an allergic reaction to coffee is postulated to be mostly genetics. This means that if one parent has allergies, the probability of their child to develop allergies rises up to 50 percent. Should both parents have allergies, this probability increases to 70 percent.
Another risk factor would be the length of exposure to the allergen. The longer the person is exposed to coffee or its derivatives, the higher the chance of developing a coffee allergy. On the other hand, this does not imply that everyone who drinks large quantities of coffee will also form allergies to coffee. The exact nature of the development of allergies is still unclear.
Coffee allergy symptoms can be easily managed with current medications. One can choose between pharmacological or nutraceutical. This means that conventional drugs can be used. Alternately, some herbal preparations can also be taken.
The first line of treatment of allergies is antihistamine drugs. As their name suggests, these drugs counter the effect of histamines in the body. It is useful in controlling the sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, itchy throat and nose, and some inflammation.
Immunotherapy may also be an option for some people with mild coffee allergy. This therapy involves the gradual introduction of the coffee allergen – caffeine – into the body. The allergen concentration is started at the lowest possible dose. Over time, the body adjusts itself and will slowly become used to the allergen. The therapy is continued until such a time that the body will no longer react to the presence of the allergen.
There are times that coffee allergies may not be detected. Nevertheless, coffee allergies are real and may cause some trouble for certain individuals. The best way to prevent allergic reactions to coffee from happening is to simply avoid any contact with the allergen.