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Feeling spicey…about Spice Allergy

Jan 11, 2024
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Ever wonder if you are allergic to a spice? Just how common is it, how is it tested and how is it treated? Read and find out!

Spice allergy is relatively uncommon, perhaps because spices are such a small and underestimated part of our diet.  However, on the order of 2% of adult patients have a spice allergy.  The most common spices that are incriminated in causing an allergy are the same as those we use all the time:  mustard, allspice, coriander, cilantro, fennel, saffron, parsley and cumin.  Less frequently, oregano, thyme, caraway seed and cayenne pepper seem to be a problem.  Many of these spices are hidden in recipes as "flavorings" or "colorings" and as such, are not necessarily required to be declared on a food's label as one of the specific ingredients by the Food & Drug Administration.

Because it is uncommon and not commercially available, we use a technique known as the prick-prick test.  The prick-prick test involves pricking the fresh food and pricking the skin, much like a typical skin allergy testing.  At the end of the testing, the sizes of the reactions are measured, and the test is read by the Allergist.

Until recently, the best advice for a spice allergic patient is to avoid the substance.  Testing is necessary to narrow down this, of course and is the first step in that process.

Now, food oral immunotherapy (FOIT) is available through those Allergists-Immunologists that are familiar with the techniques.  FOIT involves ingesting the allergy-triggering food, starting below the allergic threshold and slowly increasing until a typically ingested quantity can be consumed without reaction.  The goal of FOIT is not necessarily to be able to free-eat the food, though some patients can by the end of their FOIT course, but to be able to accidentally ingest with no or minimal issues.  Because it is a prolonged process, typically 6 months and requires ongoing dedication by the patient, it is best used for patients that are highly motivated to reduce their allergy.

If you would like to be tested for your allergies or believe you might be a good candidate for food oral immunotherapy or allergy shots, Dr. Wendt and the staff at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives would love to help.

Relieve Allergy Asthma & Hives is located near Kierland Commons, Scottsdale Quarter, DC Ranch and Grayhawk at 21803 N. Scottsdale Road Ste. 200, on the corners of Deer Valley and Scottsdale Roads, and has convenient evening and early morning hours to accommodate your schedule.

Dr. Wendt is also available for telemedicine appointments as appropriate. Insurance plans accepted. Call 480-500-1902 today to schedule an appointment now and begin your allergy testing and treatment with Dr. Wendt at Relieve Allergy, Asthma & Hives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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