Bad Reactions to Honey

Pot of honey and wooden stick.
A jar of honey with a wooden stick. (Image: Valentyn Volkov/iStock/Getty Images)

Though sweet, honey can cause two types of bad reactions. Some individuals might be allergic to the pollen, bee venom or proteins in honey. For baby's under the age of 1, honey can cause a reaction from the bacteria. To avoid a bad reaction to honey, people who are allergic to it and children under age 1 should not consume it.

Allergy

A bad reaction to honey is an allergic reaction, which occurs when your body overreacts to the presence of a protein inside of a food. Your body signals a fight against the protein, causing your immune system to take action. Your immune system responds by releasing chemicals that cause swelling.

Causes and Symptoms

Honey contains three potential allergens. An allergy to honey can be the cause of pollen, bee venom or the honey itself. Your doctor can help you determine which is the cause. Symptoms of a honey allergy include swelling, hives, watery eyes, nasal congestion, trouble breathing, vomit, diarrhea, stomach pain, confusion, dizziness, throat closing and anaphylaxis. If you suspect a honey allergy, seek medical help right away.

Infant Botulism

Honey has the potential to carry the bacteria clostridium. This bacteria can cause infant botulism. Though this bacteria cannot thrive in an adult's digestive system, the spores can thrive inside of an infant. Multiplying bacteria results in botulism and may cause trouble breathing or even death.

Honey and Children

To reduce the risk of exposing an infant to botulism, do not introduce your child to honey until after he turns 1. After that, the digestive system has developed enough to fight off this bacteria. If your child has eaten honey and begins to exhibit signs including constipation, muscle weakness, a muddled cry or trouble suckling, seek medical help right away. These are the signs of a bad reaction to honey in infants.

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