Cinnamon Allergies

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An allergy is an adverse reaction by the immune system to any substance. While any substance – say dairy products – could cause allergies in one person, they could be perfectly safe for someone else. The body sees an allergen as a threat and reacts inappropriately to it. Allergies are usually classified as IgE or non-IgE (immunoglobin E) mediated. Very often the body may not display any symptoms the first time it comes in contact with an allergen (eg. pollen). It could take days or years for sensitization to take place.

The most common allergy triggers or allergens are pollen, mold, dust mites, animal dander, latex, food, medicines and insect stings. Symptoms could be mild like an eye irritation or nose congestion to swelling of the face and body and difficulty breathing. Some allergies like pollen are seasonal and are treated with antihistamines. Some allergies like an insect sting could cause a deadly reaction like anaphylaxis which could prove life-threatening if left untreated. 

Cinnamon Allergies

Some times cinnamon also causes allergies. While there are several different symptoms for allergic reaction, it is important to know the common ones. Then we can take remedial action before the symptoms worsen. A cinnamon allergy is caused due to an adverse reaction to foods or supplements which contain cinnamon. The incidences of cinnamon allergy are rare and usually not serious. When cinnamon is consumed, if a person is allergic to it, the body will produce histamine and IgE antibody in response to it. The specific symptoms of a cinnamon allergy vary from person to person. Some common ones are:

  • Runny nose
  • Watery, itchy red eyescinnamon allergies
  • Hives
  • Chest congestion
  • Swelling of tongue and throat
  • Breathing difficulties similar to asthma
  • Facial swelling
  • Flushed skin
  • Itching
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Swallowing problems 

Cinnamon oil is also known to be a contact allergen and could cause allergic contact dermatitis. The main cause of allergic reaction to cinnamon oil is the presence of cinnamaldehyde and eugenol. Cinnamaldehyde (aldehyde) has antifungal properties. However, this is also the cause of its being a strong allergen. Eugenol (alcohol) used as a mosquito repellant could also cause allergic reactions.

Topical use of cinnamon oil is the most common cause of an allergic reaction. Cinnamon oil is usually used as a fragrance or medicinally in creams and lotions. A person sensitive to the aldehyde and alcohol could develop skin reactions like redness, inflammation, itchy rash or hives. The allergic reaction will occur only where cinnamon oil comes in contact with the skin if the reaction is irritant contact dermatitis. In allergic contact dermatitis, the symptoms are more widespread and severe. 

Since cinnamon spice has a pleasant flavor, the oil is used as a flavoring agent in candy, toothpaste and chewing gum. Eating these products could cause swelling, burning around the mouth, sores, swelling of gums, lips, throat, gums, tongue and cheeks. Sometimes a patient may develop an immediate type-I or II sensitivity to cinnamon that could cause instant breathing, skin or stomach problems.

When a person develops a food allergy, initially the actual food causing it will not be known. For example, cinnamon is usually not eaten on its own but as an ingredient among many others. Also, the reaction could occur after some time of using or consuming cinnamon. Skin tests are often done to test food allergies. These however may not always be accurate. Hence, if you display any allergic reactions, seek medical intervention immediately. 

Treatment for Cinnamon Allergies

When we first experience such symptoms, we must identify that we are allergic to the product and stop using it. Seek advice from a doctor. Usually no treatment except for avoiding cinnamon will be recommended if the symptoms are mild. Antihistamines will be prescribed in some cases. If you have nasal problems, a nasal spray maybe given. Eye drops are usually prescribed if the patient’s eyes develop allergic conjunctivitis. Asthma medications or oral steroids may also be prescribed. If the person suffers extreme allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, immediate hospitalization, IV fluids, high flow oxygen, bronchodilators, IM adrenaline are some of the treatments which will be given. 

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