Soy Allergy

What is a Soy Allergy?

A food that causes an allergic reaction in many individuals is soybeans. The various types of allergies caused by soy products include a soy milk allergy, soy lecithin allergy and soy sauce allergy.

Doctors can diagnose a soy allergy by performing various kinds of tests, which include a skin prick test, a radioallergosorbent test and an intradermal skin test. The immune system of a person who has a soy allergy mistakenly believes that this kind of food is unsafe. To keep the body from harm, the immune system discharges histamines and this compound is what causes a person to have an allergic reaction.

What are the Symptoms of Soy Allergy?

When an individual has an allergic reaction from consuming a food or beverage that contains soy, their symptoms can be mild or they can be very serious. Mild symptoms often include an itchy rash or hives, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing and coughing. Symptoms that can turn life-threatening include pains in the chest area, becoming unconscious, a swollen tongue or throat, swallowing difficulties, being short of breath and a blood pressure level that drops too low. Individuals who have an allergic reaction to a soy product may immediately start having symptoms or it may take numerous hours before the symptoms begin.

Soy Allergy Causes

All food allergies are a direct reaction of a person’s immune system to triggers which are generally harmless. Similarly, when someone with a soy allergy eats a food product containing soy, or traces of soy, their immune system triggers an allergic reaction. Their body identifies particular soy proteins as a ‘bad’ foreign pathogen, and sends fighting antibodies to the allergen – in this case, soy proteins. Each time that an individual with a soy allergy encounters soy, those same IgE antibodies recognize the soy, determine it to be harmful, and communicate with the body’s immune system. The immune system then manufactures the histamine, which is sent out into and carried through the body’s bloodstream. The histamine is the way in which the allergy symptoms manifest themselves.

How is a Soy Allergy Treated?

Medical treatment for a minor allergic reaction to a soy-based product is a prescription antihistamine and steroid medication. When individuals have a serious allergic reaction they will receive a medication called epinephrine, which causes a reversal of the symptoms.

Additional medications may include cortisone to lessen the signs of inflammation, and diphenhydramine and cetirizine to help control certain symptoms, such as sneezing and itching. Individuals who are experiencing problems with breathing may be prescribed various asthma medications. To avoid dangerous allergic reactions from a soy allergy, individuals should avoid consuming any foods or drinks that contain soy.

Soy Allergy Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent any kind of food allergy – and a soy allergy is no exception to the rule. Sometimes, a person who has gone their whole life eating soy and soy food products and experiencing no negative or adverse reaction can suddenly and without warning develop an allergic reaction to soy. This is the case with all other food allergies.

When it comes to young children, feeding your infant breast milk instead of cow’s milk or soy milk may help to reduce the likelihood of your child developing a soy allergy. Additionally, some scientific evidence has shown that, in children, an allergy to cow’s milk may later develop into an allergy to soy milk, and vice versa.

Ultimately, although an allergy cannot be prevented, an allergic reaction can be prevented. For someone who is allergic to soy, it is important to avoid any food products containing the ingredient. This includes food products which may be cooked with soybean oil or processed in a place that cooks with soy. Even trace amounts of soy may trigger a reaction. Always read food labels and choose dishes carefully when dining out.