People of all age groups can be allergic to cinnamon, a spice that is widely used in pastries, baked goods, and several other food products. Although very rare, it is necessary to know the symptoms of cinnamon allergy. Along with the symptoms, this HealthHearty article presents information on the treatment of the allergy and cinnamon substitutes too.
Epinephrine, that is used to treat anaphylactic shock (severe allergic reaction), should be used with caution if you are pregnant or if you have heart disease, or if you are taking certain medicines that can cause heart-related symptoms.
In some sensitive individuals, the immune system fails to recognize a food ingredient as a ‘safe’ substance. Considering it a ‘harmful’ substance for the body, the immune system produces antibodies to fight it off. Histamine, released to protect the body from a harmful substance, causes irritation and inflammation. If your child feels uneasy after eating cookies or pastries that contain cinnamon, if he often complains about stomachache or stuffed nose, then it is possible that he is allergic to cinnamon. Not only babies and toddlers, but young adults and elderly members of the family can also be allergic to cinnamon.
Cinnamon is added to various foods as it enhances the taste and flavor of the food. Those who are allergic to cinnamon can exhibit a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms may vary from person to person depending on the severity of the allergy. Some may exhibit allergy symptoms after touching the cinnamon, while some may develop the symptoms only when it is swallowed.
Mild symptoms of an allergic reaction to cinnamon are often considered as symptoms of common cold or of seasonal allergies like pollen allergy. Only an allergy test can help the person to know whether he is allergic to cinnamon or not.
Common Symptoms of Cinnamon Allergy
Some people notice the signs of cinnamon allergy immediately after eating or touching cinnamon, while some develop the symptoms hours after the intake of cinnamon. A mild allergic reaction may affect only the skin, but a severe reaction may affect the lungs, heart, and the circulatory system, usually within an hour of exposure. So, it is necessary to undergo the test suggested by the doctor. These are the commonly observed symptoms.
✦ Itchy, reddened, watery eyes
✦ Cough, sore throat
✦ Runny or stuffy nose, excessive sneezing
✦ Itchy skin, flushing of skin
✦ Swelling, irritation, and redness around the skin area that came in contact with cinnamon.
✦ Nausea, vomiting, and stomachache, that may stop on its own after a while (once the substance is thrown out of the body)
✦ Swollen lips and tongue
✦ Breathing difficulty, wheezing, asthma-like symptoms
These days, some baby foods are flavored with cinnamon. Although it is difficult to diagnose the allergy, you should carefully observe whether the baby turns fussy or inconsolable after eating the particular food. Infants may suffer from nasal congestion, wheezing, or breathing difficulty. They may develop skin rashes as a result of an allergic reaction. Vomiting and diarrhea are some other symptoms to watch for. Cinnamon is not a common allergen, but as it has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, it is necessary to confirm that the child is not allergic to it.
✦ Swollen Face: This can be noticed as the first sign of a severe allergic reaction.
✦ Skin Dermatitis: Severe inflammation of the skin is one of the common symptoms of an allergy. Some people may develop blisters, severe itching sensation, or eczema, on contact with cinnamon, or on consuming cinnamon. Initially, one may notice redness or rashes, but may develop skin hives within a few minutes or within a couple of hours.
✦ Gastrointestinal Problems: Abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting are some of the allergy symptoms that need immediate medical attention.
✦ Difficulty in Swallowing: Patients with cinnamon allergy may experience swollen throat, sore throat, and consistent coughing.
✦ Breathing Difficulty: Due to swollen airways, the person may find it difficult to breathe. In case of severe symptoms, the person may faint due to lack of oxygen.
✦ Anaphylactic Shock: This occurs very rarely, but it can be a life-threatening condition. Hence, one should be aware of it. As a result of a severe allergic reaction, the person may have rapid, slow, or irregular heartbeat. He may not be able to think and describe what is happening to him. There can be a sudden drop in his blood pressure. All this can lead to delirium, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. The patient should be taken to a nearby hospital immediately. The severity, progression, manifestation and duration of the symptoms of anaphylaxis are unpredictable and may vary from person to person.
The treatment depends on the nature and severity of the reaction. For mild and self-limiting symptoms, no treatment is required.
✦ Avoiding contact with the allergen is the best way of preventing an allergic reaction. Avoid foods that contain cinnamon. Read the labels carefully before purchasing food products, especially baby food. Similarly, read the menu card carefully before ordering a food item at a restaurant. Plan in advance, when eating out or traveling. Avoid touching cinnamon if you are allergic to it. Those who are fond of sucking cinnamon-soaked toothpicks, should avoid doing so. Those who are allergic to cinnamon should avoid using cinnamon oil as well.
✦ In today’s busy life, allergen avoidance is not always possible. If an inadvertent allergen exposure occurs, and if you know that you are allergic to cinnamon, then take over-the-counter antihistamine immediately.
✦ Diphenhydramine, commonly known as Benadryl, is an over-the-counter drug that can provide immediate relief. Effects of antihistamines are usually seen after a couple of hours, but diphenhydramine is known for quick results. The symptoms (if they are relatively mild) would be relieved within 10 minutes. If the symptoms do not go away within an hour, you should see a doctor immediately. In case of a severe reaction, it is necessary to consult a doctor and take the prescribed medication.
✦ In case of an anaphylactic reaction, administering an epinephrine injection is absolutely essential. Those who know that they are likely to face such a situation, should always carry the ‘EpiPen Auto Injectors’ (which contain a single dose of epinephrine) with them. They can wear allergy bands around the wrist to indicate that they have food allergy. They should inform their friends and colleagues about the possibility well in advance.
✦ If a child is allergic to cinnamon, the parents should inform the family members, school personnel, babysitters, etc., who may be responsible for the care of the child, about the allergens that the child needs to avoid.
✦ Antihistamines work great for skin conditions. They may not help relieve asthma-like symptoms. Bronchodilators can help get rid of asthmatic symptoms.
✦ If you notice mild swelling, irritation, and redness around the skin after coming in contact with cinnamon, then simply wash the affected area with soap and water. Topical application of hydrocortisone cream can help relieve the itching sensation.
As explained above, it is essential to avoid foods that contain cinnamon, if you are allergic to it. You can easily avoid cinnamon while preparing your own food. There would be a slight difference in the flavor, taste, and aroma. No other spice can replace cinnamon as it imparts a unique flavor to the food. But you may try other spices like mace, cloves, black pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, etc.
Those who are allergic to cinnamon can be allergic to dried cinnamon leaves too. The leaves of cinnamon tree are dried and used as spice in various dishes. They also lend a nice flavor to food. It has been found that cinnamon flavor can also trigger a reaction, so beware of it. Although cinnamon bark oil or cinnamon leaf oil have numerous health benefits, they can cause irritations and allergic reactions.
This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be substituted for the advice of a medical professional.