Is it possible to have a spice allergy?

spice allergy

Is it possible to have a spice allergy?

One in ten Brits order a takeaway at least once a week. It’s a welcome treat after a long week, and the UK loves a Chinese or Indian in particular. But if either of these leaves you feeling not-so-great – bloated or breaking out in hives – it’s possible you might have a spice allergy.

Spice allergies aren’t talked about often. Perhaps it’s because most of us have never really stopped to ask ourselves if we can even be allergic to spices. But while it’s rare, it reportedly affects between 4 and 13 of every 10,000 adults. So what are the symptoms and what should you do if you think you have one? 


Figuring out if you’re allergic to spices can be difficult. In part, it’s because spicy food naturally causes reactions that may seem like allergy symptoms. Who hasn’t had watery eyes, a runny nose, and a burning sensation in the mouth after a particularly hot curry? These symptoms alone are simply a response to the chemicals in the spice and are normal.

But if you start to experience other symptoms – such as a blocked nose, hives, nausea, diarrhoea, and shortness of breath – you could be allergic. In serious cases, spice allergy can even lead to anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

What to do if you think you’re allergic

Spice allergies are underdiagnosed because of a lack of reliable tests. With this in mind, it might be tempting to test out various spices to see if they cause a reaction, but this can be incredibly dangerous.

The best action you can take is to keep a detailed food diary, noting down when your symptoms appear and what they are. This can help an allergist narrow down the list of potential allergens. It may also be useful to note that some spice allergies are more common than others. These include mustard, celery, sesame, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and onion.

The chances you have this particular allergy are minimal, but if you ever have any suspicions, seek the advice of a doctor. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

If you suspect you may have a spice allergy, don’t suffer in silence. Get in touch with the London Allergy and Immunology Centre. Call us today on 02031 433 449.

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