Your body produces creatine in the kidneys, pancreas and liver. You also ingest creatine each time you eat meat and fish. At the time of this publication, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that Americans spend about $14 million each year on creatine supplements to build muscles and improve athletic performance in high-intensity sports such as weightlifting and high jumping. Facial swelling from creatine supplements may result from anaphylaxis or because of bloating.
Anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, causes your lips, tongue, mouth and face to swell within minutes of using a creatine supplement. The swelling may become so severe it closes off your throat or increases the pressure around your heart. Common symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include skin rash, palpitations, changes in your breathing, fainting, dizziness, confusion, cough, slurred speech, anxiety, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and increased heart rate.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention. If you think you are having an anaphylactic reaction, call 911 as soon as possible. Emergency personal may insert a breathing tube to allow you to breathe and give you a shot of epinephrine that helps alleviate your symptoms almost immediately. Health care professionals may also administer corticosteroids and antihistamines to prevent further allergic symptoms.
The puffiness in your face may also result from bloating. Muscles collect water from the rest of the body when you consume a creatine supplement. As your muscles swell you may notice bloating or puffiness in various areas of your face caused by this water uptake. You may also gain water weight that appears to be larger muscles. The uptake of water from your body my result in dehydration if you do not drink extra water and exercise in the heat.
Anaphylaxis vs. Bloating
While both bloating and anaphylaxis may cause facial puffiness, only anaphylaxis is life-threatening. Distinguish between the two by considering other symptoms and the time line of these symptoms. Facial puffiness caused by anaphylaxis happens rapidly and typically accompanies other symptoms of allergic reactions. Bloating on the other hand may take a day or more to appear as your body processes the extra creatine and typically causes puffiness in more places than just your face or neck. If you cannot determine if your puffy face occurred because of an anaphylactic reaction or because of bloating, seek an immediate medical evaluation.