Amaranth is a grain utilized in producing flour that is used for baking purposes. It can be added to wheat flours to make pre-packaged crackers, breads and cookies. Amaranth allergy can trigger adverse reactions within a few minutes or up to an hour after ingesting the grain.
If an individual is suspected with amaranth allergy, a doctor should be consulted so that further assessment can be carried out. This allergy is considered uncommon but it can occur in some individuals. Once an individual has been diagnosed with grain allergy, he/she might be susceptible to amaranth allergy.
Exact cause of amaranth allergy
An allergic reaction is triggered by an erroneous immune response in which the proteins in amaranth are perceived as a threat. The body responds as if it is under siege and starts to defend itself by releasing antibodies.
The IgE antibodies are produced to fight off the proteins from the grain. Once the IgE antibodies enter the bloodstream, the mast cells start to release histamine which is a chemical that prevents infection. If histamine is present in large amounts, it leads to inflammation of the soft tissues.
Symptoms of amaranth allergy
The symptoms of amaranth allergy can range from mild to severe and affect each individual distinctively. The high level of histamine in the body can lead to various symptoms such as the following:
- Sinus congestion
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Hives and/or eczema
- Generalized skin irritation
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal cramps
Identifying amaranth allergy
Once the doctor recommends allergy tests to confirm amaranth allergy, 2 approaches are used – blood test and skin prick test. These tests are used to check if the body produces IgE antibodies after exposure to the proteins present in amaranth.
The skin prick test involves the administration of a small amount of protein under the skin to check if it becomes inflamed. The blood tests require a sample of blood taken to check for the presence of IgE antibodies after being exposed to the protein.
Considerations to bear in mind
An uncommon yet potentially life-threatening reaction due to amaranth allergy is possible. The signs and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis include a rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing and mental confusion. Once any of these symptoms manifest, it is vital to seek immediate medical care.