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Carbohydrate Allergy

author image Diane Marks
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.
Carbohydrate Allergy
Those carbohydrates may cause an allergic reaction. Photo Credit Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images

Most food allergies are related to the proteins found in specific foods, such as gluten, whey or casein. Recent studies reported by ABC News state that certain uncommon allergies, such as an allergy to meat, found that the reaction was to certain carbohydrates found in foods, and not proteins. The allergic reaction is a hypersensitivity to specific carbohydrates and may not be related to carbohydrates in general. Food allergies are commonly confused as food intolerance and needs to be determined by your doctor. A food allergy is a malfunction of you immune system while food intolerance is the inability of your intestines to create the appropriate enzymes to breakdown certain proteins and sugars. If you suspect that you’re allergic to carbohydrates, talk with your physician.

Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction to carbohydrates occurs because your immune system mistakes the carbohydrate as a dangerous substance. Although the carbohydrate may be harmless, your body reacts to it the same way it would to a viral or bacterial infection. Your immune system creates certain proteins called IgE antibodies, short for immunoglobulin E, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. These proteins are designed to recognize the carbohydrate when it enters the body, and to fight it off. The release of IgE antibodies causes mast cells in the body to produce histamine, one of the primary chemicals that lead to food allergy symptoms.


Identifying and confirming a carbohydrate is the first step to prevention and treatment of the condition. If your physician suspects that you’re allergic to certain carbohydrates, she may recommend allergy testing to determine what types of carbohydrates cause an allergic reaction. Your allergist may choose to use a skin or blood test. MayoClinic.com explains that both tests help determine if your body creates IgE antibodies when the carbohydrate is introduced into your body. If the tests return positive, your doctor will diagnose with a carbohydrate allergy.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms from a carbohydrate allergy are similar to a general food allergy. Common food allergy systems develop in the digestive system, the skin and respiratory tract. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and will develop within the first hour after you ingest the carbohydrate. You may develop stomach pain, cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and an upset stomach within minutes of eating a carbohydrate you’re allergic to. The skin can become inflamed, itchy and red around the mouth or elsewhere on the body. Hives and eczema are two common skin reactions that develop from a food allergy. The respiratory system can become strained. Inflammation in the sinuses, the lungs and throat can lead to nasal congestion, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain and postnasal drip.


According to ABC News the only known carbohydrate allergy that's been identified is with carbohydrates found in meats. The allergic reaction is considered very rare and causes delayed symptoms, whereas other protein allergies cause relatively immediate symptoms. A carbohydrate intolerance will only cause digestive symptoms, while a genuine carbohydrate allergy will cause symptoms that affect more than the gut. Carbohydrate allergies can cause anaphylactic shock and need to be evaluated by your doctor. Stop eating any food that you suspect you're allergic to until you can be seen by a physician.

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