Ultimate Guide for coping with Allergies
Perhaps one of the most significant problems associated with a caffeine allergy is the fact it is not always obvious what foods have caffeine. We all know that regular tea, coffee and colas have caffeine, but it also turns up in a lot of unexpected places. That can be a real problem for those with an allergy to caffeine. What makes it especially dangerous is that food products do not have to list it as an ingredient unless it is added as opposed to naturally occurring. Even if it is listed on the label, the amount of caffeine might not be included, so you have no way of determining how much of a problem the product might prove to be.
Ways to stop drinking coffee
Decaffeination techniques are not perfect. That means decaffeinated products will have some amount of caffeine in them. While a regular cup of coffee might have between 80 and 90 mg of caffeine, the decaffeinated version might still have between 8 and 14 mg. For those with a severe allergy, this could prove to be a significant issue.
It is important to avoid making assumptions about sodas. For instance, Mountain Dew has plenty of caffeine as does Sunkist Orange but, since it doesn’t “look” like a cola, some might believe there is no caffeine. Root beers vary, so the label should always be checked. Chocolate is another product that contains natural caffeine. Anything with a chocolate flavour should be considered suspect. You may even have to contact the company that manufactures a product to find out if a specific product contains caffeine. This is also true of items with a coffee “flavour.” Sometimes those in customer service might not have the correct information, so if your allergy is severe, you should do whatever research is necessary to determine the amount of caffeine in anything that might contain the substance.
Guarana is an especially potent source of caffeine. Many energy drinks use this to provide a “boost.” Other herbs, like yerba mate and kola nuts, also contain natural caffeine. Many medications contain caffeine especially non-drowsy versions of medicines for colds and headaches. Diet pills are also likely to include caffeine as one of the ingredients. Make sure all your doctors are aware of your caffeine allergy.
Believe it or not, some brands of cigarettes – that’s right – cigarettes can contain caffeine. If you smoke and are allergic to caffeine, you will have to make sure your brand is not one of the culprits. Cigarettes are not the only surprise products. Some vitamins, like One-A-Day, also contain caffeine. It is these hidden sources of caffeine that can prove to be deadly.
Those who partake of caffeinated products should be aware that caffeine can rob the body of nutrients like calcium and iron. That is why it is recommended that you take a vitamin/mineral supplement to make sure you avoid the complications that can arise from a lack of proper nourishment.
A caffeine detection test is being developed at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. This will allow individuals to test products if they are unsure of the caffeine content. You will no longer have to rely on possibly incorrect information to determine if a product is safe for you.
Caffeine allergy symptoms
Many people experience caffeine allergy symptoms that are similar to asthma. Common allergic reactions include rashes, hives, inflammation and swelling, sneezing, itchy mouth, hoarseness, eczema, difficulty sleeping, visual problems and quick breathing. A racing pulse, dizziness, muscular tension, cold sweats, upset stomach and irritability, headaches or migraines are other signs of an allergy. Some people feel jittery, shaky, nervous, anxious and restless.
Some people who have a severe allergic reaction to caffeine can exhibit irrational behaviour, mood swings or psychosis which can become permanent. Other symptoms which might indicate a caffeine allergy include fainting, panic attacks, insomnia, or an inability to wake up. Some people might exhibit compulsive behaviour, which is a drive to do something to excess. Others might experience swelling of the throat, tongue, lips, eyelids or face; difficulty swallowing or breathing; and heart or chest pains.
- It is possible for people to get confused, be unable to focus, be sensitive to light, or experience panic attacks. Other serious symptoms of caffeine allergy which might require medical care include urticarial which are elevated linear streaks on the skin, anorexia, hallucinations, heart attack or a deadly heart rhythm disturbance.
- If a caffeine allergy is not properly diagnosed, medications can make the reaction even worse. If someone has hives and is given epinephrine to combat what appears to be an allergy to pollen, the combination of the two drugs and, yes, caffeine is a drug, can make the problem worse.
- Anaphylactic shock, a powerful allergic reaction, can result in toxic dementia if the caffeine can cross the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain. This condition can cause permanent brain damage.
How to know if you have a caffeine allergy?
There are three fundamental ways to conduct tests to determine the presence of an allergy. An oral challenge test is just what the name implies. Swallowing a bit of the suspected food, in this case, something with caffeine will directly demonstrate the existence of an allergy. A skin prick test will leave no room for doubt about an allergy. A blood test can also be used to determine whether someone is allergic to caffeine. Each caffeine allergy test provides important information about an individual’s sensitivity.
While ingesting caffeine can result in an allergic reaction in some individuals, it is also possible that the caffeinated product you are enjoying contains other substances that can cause problems. Tannin, present in some teas, and pesticides and herbicides, which may be present in some caffeinated products, can be a contributing factor to what appears to be an allergic reaction to caffeine but is the result of the body’s sensitivity to these unexpected ingredients.
Is it possible to treat caffeine allergy?
You are not going to like it. There is no treatment for an allergy to caffeine. The only thing you can do is stop ingesting it. That means you have to be aware of foods that may contain hidden caffeine. For some people, even that small amount of caffeine can be extremely destructive. Until a caffeine allergy treatment is developed, caffeine has to be off-limits.
Regardless of how much caffeine you have been eating, you should not quit cold turkey. The results could be disastrous. Instead, you must taper back gradually. If you have been consuming a great deal of caffeine, you might want to consult a doctor before weaning yourself. If you have been diagnosed with a caffeine allergy, you are going to have to bite the bullet and go without; good luck!