Tips to Prevent MSG Allergy

MSG stands for Monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer which is mostly used in Chinese and Asian dishes. MSG is a crystal-like substance and resembles salt/ sugar. Soups, canned food, chips, salad dressings are some of the foods that contain MSG. Some people experience symptoms such as burning sensation,nausea, headache, abdominal pain – when they consume MSG. These symptoms are termed as MSG allergy or Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.

MSG allergy is actually a reference to MSG intolerance or sensitivity. This means that the persons immune system is not involved in the reaction. MSG is believed to increase the histamine levels in the body, thus resulting in reactions which mimic allergic reactions.

Symptoms of MSG Allergy/Sensitivity:

  • Headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Sweating
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

To treat MSG symptoms anti-histamines are used. However, the symptoms go away in 2 to 3 hours.

Tips to Prevent MSG Allergy:

  • It was observed that high quantities of MSG caused the reaction in most cases. Hence, avoid high MSG content in the food
  • MSG sensitivity was also seen if the person consumed it while on empty stomach. So, avoid consuming MSG while on empty stomach
  • While eating out, inform the waiter about your MSG sensitivity and make sure no MSG is added in the food
  • While shopping for food, read the labels to make sure no MSG is present

MSG allergy is rare, affecting about 1% of the population. Studies show that MSG consumed in small doses does not cause reaction. However, if you have severe reaction to MSG, do consult your allergist, who can diagnose and treat MSG allergy.

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