Rice and oats aren't on the list of most common food allergens. Those spots go to milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. But that doesn't mean that an allergic reaction can't happen. People can have allergic reactions to all sorts of foods, and those reactions can be quite serious. Knowing the signs and how to deal with food allergies will help you navigate your kitchen and restaurant menus with ease.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Food allergies, no matter the food, have the same list of symptoms that you should watch out for whenever you eat rice or oats. This will help you identify the issue so you can communicate it to your doctor. Mild symptoms of a food allergy include itchy skin and hives, redness of the skin or redness around the eyes, itchy mouth or ears, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, nasal congestion, sneezing, a dry cough, a funny taste in the mouth and contractions of the uterine. More severe symptoms may include swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, which can obstruct breathing, difficulty swallowing, shortness of breath or wheezing, turning blue, falling blood pressure, loss of consciousness, chest pain, weak pulse or a feeling of imminent doom. Severe allergic reactions can lead to anaphylaxis, which can cause death.
Allergy Vs. Intolerance
You may think you're allergic to rice and oats, but in reality you may only be intolerant. An allergic reaction involves the immune system, while an intolerance involves only the digestive system. The former is far more serious -- and potentially life-threatening -- than the latter. Some of the symptoms of a rice and oat allergy will be similar to that of an intolerance, such as nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, heartburn, vomiting and diarrhea. You may also experience headaches and irritability or nervousness.
The Problem With Cross-Contamination
There's a chance you might not be allergic or intolerant to rice or oats but to another ingredient that entered the product during manufacturing. Gluten, the protein in wheat, rye and barley that causes gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, can cause the same symptoms of an allergy or intolerance for sensitive people. If you know you are gluten-intolerant, it's important to choose rice and oat products that are labeled "certified gluten free."
Treating the Condition
If you are diagnosed with an allergy, you will have to avoid all foods containing rice or oats -- this includes many breads, pastas, breakfast cereals and Asian cuisines. Also be careful when consuming granola bars, cookies and any other baked goods since they may contain rice or oats. Other foods and ingredients that may trigger a rice or oat allergy include rice syrup, rice wine, rice milk and oat milk.