Aspartame is an artificial sweetener, commonly used by people who are trying to cut down on sugar consumption. Aspartame may cause an allergic reaction in some people, resulting in gastrointestinal, respiratory and skin complications. If you develop an adverse reaction after consuming aspartame, you should stop using the sweetener and call your doctor immediately. If you are diagnosed with an allergy to aspartame, you will need to avoid consuming all products that contain the substance.
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An allergic reaction to aspartame occurs when you ingest the substance, and your immune system identifies it as a threat to your body. Although the FDA has approved aspartame as safe for human consumption, in certain people, the body mistakes the chemical as harmful. As a result, the body creates various chemicals that attack the aspartame, which cause common side effects of an allergy. Most allergic reaction symptoms develop within minutes of consuming aspartame.
The gastrointestinal system is commonly affected by an allergic reaction to aspartame. Inflammation in the lining of the intestines often leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, stomach pain, gas and bloating. During the allergic reaction, your body produces histamine in the soft tissue of your intestines, which produces swelling. Gastrointestinal symptoms will subside after the substance is expelled from your body.
Your respiratory system can be affected within minutes of ingesting aspartame. Common side effects include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, swelling in the throat, wheezing, coughing and chest pain. Your sinus cavity can also become congested, leading to further complications. Sinus congestion can cause sinus headaches, postnasal drip, facial pressure and sneezing. If you develop the sensation of a lump in your throat along with facial swelling, call 911 because you may be experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
The most common skin side effect is the development of hives, which can form anywhere on your body. Hives are characterized by a rash that is itchy, causing welts to form in clusters. Hives, which appear in different shapes and sizes, can move from part of your body to another for no reason. They typically go away within a few hours and are harmless, unless they form in your throat or inner ear. Treat this condition with hydrocortisone cream to reduce inflammation and swelling. You may also develop eczema or general skin inflammation from an allergy to aspartame.