MSG allergy treatment is largely based upon the severity of the symptoms observed in the patient. Read this article to learn about the symptoms of MSG allergy along with its various treatment options.
MSG, which stands for monosodium glutamate, is a food additive which is used to enhance the flavor of various cuisines. It is popularly used in Chinese foods, soups, processed meats, canned vegetables, etc. There are some people who are allergic towards MSG or monosodium glutamate. Here, I would like to make one thing clear that MSG allergy is different from MSG intolerance.
Those with MSG intolerance cannot digest this particular food component. It results in some mild digestive symptoms like upset stomach and nausea. On the other hand, MSG allergy is a serious issue where the immune system becomes hypersensitive towards this particular allergen and assumes that it is as an unwanted foreign substance which has to be eliminated. Therefore, we can say that the body responds strongly in an allergic reaction.
Most people get MSG allergy symptoms soon after consuming the food that contains this additive. Others may experience these reactions a few hours later. The most commonly observed symptoms of MSG allergy are given below:
- Severe abdominal cramps or pain is experienced by the patient allergic to MSG.
- Constant nauseatic feeling is another symptom that a patient experiences.
- Headache, another symptom, lasts for one or two hours. During this time, one can feel pain or pressure in the face as well.
- Allergic skin reaction occurs due to which one feels itching and numbness in the face, back of the neck, shoulders, chest, etc. Some people may also complain about a burning sensation in these areas.
- Swelling occurs in various parts of the body like nasal passage, tongue and throat.
- Irregular heartbeat may be experienced, which often leads to pain and tightness in the chest, breathing difficulty or wheezing sound is produced while breathing.
- Anaphylactic shock is observed in few people only, but is the most serious MSG allergy symptom as it has serious consequences like sudden drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness.
If a trace amount of monosodium glutamate is ingested, then minor symptoms such as headache and skin rashes are observed that usually subside within 2-3 hours and do not require any MSG allergy treatment. On the other hand, serious symptoms like breathing difficulty or chest pain suggest that large amount of MSG has been consumed and it requires immediate medical intervention.
Doctors first study the symptoms, check out the medical history of the patient and inquire about the foods taken. For further confirmation of the possible trigger of the allergic reaction, they may conduct a special allergy test. In some serious cases, some blood tests are also performed.
Antihistamine medicines are most widely used for treating MSG allergy. These medicines have the ability to counter the effect of histamines released due to an allergic reaction. If the patient can swallow the medicines, then oral medicines are prescribed and for others it is injected into the body. Corticosteroid medicines reduce the swelling caused by the allergy. Initially, oral corticosteroids are given for this purpose. It is often accompanied by corticosteroid ointments for the treatment of allergic rashes that appear due to MSG allergy. Corticosteroids have to be continued till the swelling disappears completely.
Anaphylactic patients mostly require hospitalization and their condition is closely monitored. Epinephrine is first given to these patients for an immediate relief from its symptoms. It helps to open up the breathing passage by dilation of the breathing tubes and normal breathing is restored. Moreover, it constricts the blood vessels and raises blood pressure. It can be administered in two different ways.
Injections are given to serious patients while others with asthma or shortness of breath are given epinephrine inhalers. Some of these patients who cannot breathe properly are given oxygen through a tube or face mask. Those with severe respiratory trouble have to be kept under mechanical ventilation for a short span of time. Saline solutions are also administered intravenously to raise their blood pressure.
However, there are no such medicines that can prevent the onset of the allergic reaction. Therefore, those who know that they are allergic to MSG must strictly avoid any such food that contains MSG as a component. They should not eat in Chinese restaurants as MSG is widely used in various Chinese cuisines. While purchasing processed meats or canned vegetables from the supermarkets, one must read the label carefully to check if it has MSG or not.