Malic acid, found primarily in fruits, is extracted to enhance or improve the flavor in many processed and packaged foods and beverages. Consumption can trigger an allergic reaction within a few minutes. If you experience symptoms that lead you to suspect you have an allergy to malic acid, call your doctor.
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Commonly added to beverages, cheeses, snack foods, hot dogs, lunch meat and dressings, malic acid can boost savory flavors; create a deeper, richer and natural-tasting flavor; improve aftertaste; and increase the aroma of certain beverages. The presence of malic acid will be disclosed in the ingredients but not in the allergy warning because an allergy to malic acid is not common.
Malic acid is safe for human consumption and is used widely in many processed foods. If you have an allergy to malic acid, your immune system makes a mistake and identifies the acid as a threatening substance, though it is really safe. All allergic reactions occur when the immune system makes this type of mistake. During an allergic reaction the immune system triggers a chain reaction of chemicals that cause common allergy symptoms.
Symptoms from a malic acid allergy are the result of the production of immunoglobulin E antibodies, histamine and other chemicals the body releases. These chemicals cause inflammation in your respiratory system, skin, cardiovascular system and digestive system. Common symptoms that develop within minutes of ingesting malic acid are nasal congestion, sinus headaches, sneezing, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, skin rashes, hives and eczema. Call your doctor immediately if you develop any of these symptoms.
Although severe allergic reactions are rare, you need to be aware of common anaphylaxis symptoms that could lead to death. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that affects your entire body. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you develop facial, lip or tongue swelling, the sensation of a lump in your throat, hives, cannot breathe or feel lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous.