Inhalation of allergens can cause serious reactions

Although it is not widely recognised, inhaling the vapours of a food to which you are allergic or hypersensitive, can set off reactions which can vary from minor to anaphylactic.

Allergen inhalation is most common occupational environments (such as bakeries) but frequently occurs in non-occupational settings, such as homes, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, and commercial flights and the exposure can be quite trivial, as in mere smelling or being in the vicinity of the food.

Symptoms can vary from a mild wheeze or itch to a systemic, life-threatening anaphylactic shock. In addition to strict avoidance, such highly-sensitive subjects should carry self-injectable epinephrine and wear MedicAlert® identification.

Asthma sufferers are particularly likely to suffer from this type of sensitivity and it is important that their asthma is well controlled.

It is also important to understand that once can get one's first sensitisation to allergen from inhaling vapours from a food without having eaten it.

For the full research
Food hypersensitivity by inhalation
Daniel A Ramirez, Jr and Sami L Bahna Allergy & Immunology Section, Louisiana State University Health Science Center in Shreveport LA, USA

Clin Mol Allergy. 2009; 7: 4.
Published online 2009 February 20. doi: 10.1186/1476-7961-7-4.

First published in February 2009

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