It’s not just sweet and tasty, but it’s also found in many foods (and can be addictive too).
And that is why having a sugar allergy can be a sticky affair.
Yes, it is possible to have a sugar allergy and we’ll take a look at exactly what that means and how you can manage and treat the allergy.
Of all the foods that have become an ingrained part of our lives, sugar probably tops the list. With many different uses from being a flavor enhancer to being an ingredient in some medicines to being an active ingredient in some fermentation processes, it is quite a versatile food substance.
And for those into energy drinks, it is one of the main ingredients as it is a proven energy booster (hence your children becoming hyper after consuming it).
With that in mind let’s delve deeper into the world of sugar, and sugar allergies in particular.
Sugar – What Exactly is It?
Sugar, as already mentioned, is found in many foods we eat, including some you may not suspect like milk. It is also used to add taste and flavor to so many different dishes.
Sugar can be found in both natural forms (as in honey, sugarcane, fruits, etc.) and in synthetic forms as well (think artificial sweeteners).
The reason sugar is so prevalent is that it comes in many different forms. The main forms of sugar are:
It is because of it coming in all these different forms that sugar is nearly ubiquitous.
And that is also a big reason to be wary if you have a sugar allergy.
Which brings us to the next question…
What is a Sugar Allergy?
When it comes to food allergies, it’s important not to mix up two closely related classifications – intolerance and allergy.
Both have symptoms that can at times be quite similar.
In order for you to fully understand what a sugar allergy is, you first of all have to know what sugar intolerance is.
Understanding Sugar Intolerance
Sugar intolerance, or any intolerance to any food, simply means your digestive system struggles to digest sugar. Take for instance one of the more common sugar intolerances – lactose intolerance. If you are lactose intolerant, it means your body can’t digest the lactose in milk.
This is what leads to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal pains.
Understanding Sugar Allergies
Unlike sugar intolerance, a sugar allergy involves the immune system.
With a sugar allergy, your immune system considers sugar as a threat to your health, or an invader in your body if you will.
This triggers a release of antibodies to attack the said intruder.
Some of the chemicals released by your immune system in a bid to flush out the intruder are called histamines. It is these histamines that cause most of the symptoms associated with a sugar allergy.
And if you are wondering, sugar intolerance doesn’t progress into a sugar allergy. This is because these 2 are caused by 2 different functions of the body that are unrelated. The symptoms may sometimes be similar, but they are not necessarily the same.
Symptoms of a Sugar Allergy
So how do you know if you have a sugar allergy?
Look for the symptoms associated with a sugar allergy. These symptoms can include any reaction such as:
For those who experience a more severe allergic reaction known as an anaphylactic shock, the symptoms can also include:
These symptoms are quite life-threatening as you can see, and that is why understanding symptoms associated with a sugar allergy is important. Not only that but knowing for certain that you have a sugar allergy and how to manage and treat is well.
Sugar Allergy – Diagnosis
Symptoms alone can be used to pinpoint an allergy. You will need to take it a step further and consult a doctor or allergist to give you an official sugar allergy diagnosis.
This is wise, not only because a medical test is able to give you better insight, but because at times the symptoms associated to sugar intolerance and allergy can actually be pointers to a more serious underlying condition.
Another thing to note when it comes to a sugar allergy or sugar intolerance is the fact that sugar comes in many forms. This has a bearing in that you may have an allergy to one type of sugar and not all of them.
For example, when you consider a person with lactose intolerance, they are usually able to consume fructose without a problem.
This ultimately means you need to carefully take note of the sugar type that your body treats as an allergen.
Prevention, Management, and Treatment of a Sugar Allergy
This is why it is important to prevent allergic attacks and to manage and treat your sugar allergy.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Obviously, once you have discovered the type of sugar your body reacts to, the best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to cut out all foods containing that sugar. This includes natural forms of that sugar as well.
But don’t despair.
Just because you can’t take sugar doesn’t mean you can enjoy some sweet things in your diet. You can add some allergy free alternatives to sugar that will give you the same sweet taste you’re afraid of missing.
Some of these include:
If you are lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy dairy as there are many different types of lactose-free milk, ice cream, and other dairy products you enjoy.
Management and Treatment
As for the management and treatment of your sugar allergy, this will require you to get antihistamines to block histamines that are the culprit to the symptoms of your sugar allergy.
And if you prefer to stick to the traditional milk and dairy products as opposed to cutting them out or going for substitutes, you can also opt for lactase tablets which are easily available over the counter. Lactase tablets contain the enzyme that helps your body digest lactose.
To treat the inflammation associated with your sugar allergy, you will need to take a corticosteroid as well.
Sugar Allergy – The Good News
The sweet news about sugar allergies is that they are very rare. Sugar intolerance, on the other hand, is quite common. But despite the fact that a real sugar allergy is rare, it is advisable to be informed and to consult with your doctor if you suspect that you may have a sugar allergy.
The bad news, however, is that if you have an intolerance for sugar, the symptoms become worse as you get older. However, you can still manage it based on the advice you have gained here (and from other sources like your doctor).
Other than that, here’s to a sweet life. It is still possible without sugar.