Am I at risk for soy allergy?

Soy allergy typically occurs among infants and young children. This allergy can manifest at any age and can be triggered by foods that were previously eaten without any issues. Many children can lose the allergy as they grow older.

Soybeans are categorized as legumes. Other foods that are included in the legume family include kidney beans, peanut, navy beans, lima beans, pinto beans, string beans, lentils, chick peas, licorice, peas and black-eyed peas. Some individuals with soy allergy might experience a reaction after consuming other legumes. If an individual has this allergy, a doctor should be consulted about other legumes to be avoided.

Indications of soy allergy

Soy allergy

Chest tightness, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

The allergic reactions to certain foods typically start within minutes up to a few hours after ingesting food. The severity of the symptoms varies widely from one individual to another. Those who are mildly allergic might experience itchiness and a few hives while highly sensitive individuals can end up with severe, life-threatening symptoms such as a swollen throat or breathing issues. The symptoms may include any or several of the following:

  • Hives or eczema
  • Itchiness
  • Tingling or swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Anaphylaxis

How to avoid an exposure

For those who have soy allergy, strict avoidance of soy is the best way to prevent a reaction. All products made with soy must be avoided but it can be a difficult task since soy is present in various processed foods. Due to this, food manufacturers are required to list common food allergens on the labeling in plain terms for easy identification. Those who have soy allergy must avoid the following ingredients and foods:

  • Soy in all forms including soy fiber, soy flour and soy albumin
  • Soybean, soy milk, soya, soy sauce
  • Soy protein and hydrolyzed soy protein
  • Soy sprouts and nuts
  • Tofu and textured vegetable protein
  • Miso, edamame, tempeh, tamari and natto

There are also certain foods that might contain soy proteins such as Asian dishes or foods that include natural or artificial flavoring, vegetable gum, vegetable broth or vegetable starch. Based on studies conducted, it is discovered that most individuals with the allergy can safely consume foods that contain soybean oil and soy lecithin.

Preventive measures

  • The individual should carefully check what he/she eats and drinks
  • Always check the labelling before using any product even if the food was safe the last time it was eaten.
  • Children must be instructed not to accept food from friends or classmates.
  • When eating outside, the individual should ask questions about the ingredients used on a particular dish and how the food was prepared.
  • Always use a medical alert bracelet with information regarding soy allergy or has an alert card with him/her at all times.
  • A doctor should be consulted on how to be prepared for a reaction. For mild reactions, they are managed with oral antihistamines. The doctor might prescribe a self-injectable epinephrine that must be on hand at all times in case of a severe reaction.
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