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Rice Allergy Foods To Avoid, Symptoms and Treatment

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If you have a sensitivity or an allergy to rice, your body is reacting to one or more of the proteins found in the plant. The proteins that are most often associated with allergies include those that belong to the 9-, 14-, and 31-kDa protein bands.

There is evidence that rice was a dietary staple in China as far back as 2500 BC. Cultivation spread across Asia and around the world, and some cultures credit the plant with forming the foundation of their civilization.

Asian countries are sometimes referred to as “rice-fish societies” – a reference to the prevalence of rice and fish in daily fare. Many Central and South American base their menus on rice and beans, and the combination of rice and legumes is a hallmark of food traditions in the Middle East.

In short, it’s hard to go anywhere without encountering rice, which makes a rice allergy particularly problematic. These are the symptoms to look out for and foods to avoid, as well as smart treatment options if you are suffering from the effects of a rice allergy.

Rice Protein Allergy: What Causes Rice Allergies?

If you have a sensitivity or an allergy to rice, your body is reacting to one or more of the proteins found in the plant. The proteins that are most often associated with allergies include those that belong to the 9-, 14-, and 31-kDa protein bands.

These have to be ingested to trigger a response from your body. They may break down during the process of cooking due to the heat, so some people have determined that they don’t have to avoid all rice – just uncooked rice.

You may experience allergic symptoms even if you don’t eat the rice. Breathing in rice pollen can trigger reactions in some people. This occurs as a result of sensitivity or allergy to the aeroallergen Ory s 1, which belongs to the same group as grass pollen allergens. You might experience an allergic reaction if you visit places where rice grows, where it is harvested, and where it is processed.

What are the Symptoms of a Rice Allergy?

The good news is that rice allergies are fairly uncommon, but that doesn’t help if you are one of those with the condition. You may be experiencing itchy skin, a rash, or hives after coming in contact or consuming rice, and gastrointestinal problems frequently come up as well.

Some of those with rice allergies experience respiratory issues, and in certain severe cases, anaphylaxis is possible. Fortunately, this is quite rare.

Monitor your symptoms and consult with your physician or allergist to discuss how rice is affecting your body. Together, you can select the most appropriate preventive measures and develop a plan for addressing symptoms if you unexpectedly consume or come into contact with rice products. Of course, the best method of prevention is avoiding rice altogether.

Can Rice Allergy Cause Vomiting?

Rice allergies are known for causing digestive distress, a general term that covers symptoms many people prefer not to discuss.

Specifically, if you have sensitivity or an allergy to rice, consuming it can cause any or all of the following:

  •     Abdominal cramps
  •     Nausea
  •     Limited or profuse vomiting 
  •     Diarrhea  

Manage these with the same sorts of treatments you use for other digestive upsets, including over-the-counter anti-nausea (antiemetic) medications and antidiarrheal medications like loperamide (Imodium) or bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto-Bismol).

If symptoms are severe, pay close attention to staying hydrated. Dehydration is one of the more serious side effects of digestive distress.

Rice Allergy Foods to Avoid

If you have determined that you have a sensitivity or full-blown allergy to rice, staying away from dishes centered around rice is the first step. Those with lower sensitivity may be able to eat other parts of the dish if the rice is carefully separated out.

However, if you are highly allergic or your symptoms are severe when you come into contact with rice products, you may not want to eat foods that were cooked with or served next to rice.

These are some of the most common rice-based foods you will come into contact with:

  •     Certain hot and cold breakfast cereals
  •     Some granola bar brands and flavors
  •     Rice cakes
  •     Rice pudding
  •     Baked goods that include rice flour
  •     Rice milk
  •     Some baby foods
  •     Risotto
  •     Sushi
  •     Rice pasta

The real challenge comes in identifying foods that contain rice when it is not a central ingredient or easily seen.

Gluten-free products are particularly high-risk, as they often replace wheat flour with rice flour.

Read labels and be on the lookout for rice flour, rice filler, and other indications that the allergen is present.

Rice Substitutes and Alternatives

Though rice allergies are inconvenient, there is good news. You won’t have to give up many of the foods you love.

There are a variety of alternatives and substitutes for rice and rice-based products, so you can continue to enjoy your favorite recipes. Some of these include the following:

  •     Oatmeal
  •     Sashimi
  •     Dairy or soy milk
  •     Baked products containing wheat flour
  •     A variety of puddings other than rice pudding
  •     All natural meats
  •     Traditional wheat pasta 
  •     Corn, potatoes, and other starches

Wheat actually contains more nutrients than rice, so you will benefit from substituting wheat alternatives for rice-based ingredients.

Rice Allergy Diagnosis and Rice Allergy Treatments

Your physician or allergist can determine whether you have an allergy to rice through a simple, safe blood test.

Once your diagnosis is certain, prevention is the best method of avoiding the symptoms of an allergic reaction. That can be accomplished by eliminating foods and products containing rice from your routine.

However, if you do come into contact with rice there are steps you can take to treat the symptoms. If you are experiencing skin irritation, itchiness, or hives, try an over-the-counter antihistamine.

When your symptoms come in the form of trouble breathing or asthma, ask your provider whether an inhaled corticosteroid is appropriate.

Those with severe allergies that cause anaphylaxis must carry an epi-pen (epinephrine auto-injector) for immediate emergency treatment. Your doctor will let you know if this is necessary in your case.

Rice Allergy Cross Reactivity

After you have been diagnosed with an allergy to rice, the next question you probably have is around cross reactivity. This is the term used to refer to other foods and plants that have the same type of proteins and therefore may also cause an allergic reaction for those with rice allergies.

Depending on the exact protein your body is reacting to, you may discover you also have a sensitivity or an allergy to barley, wheat, or buckwheat.

It’s also important to note that if your symptoms only appear when you eat black rice, the issue may be with the bran, not the rice itself. In that case, you may also experience an allergic reaction to oats, barley, and rye, which also contain bran. Your allergist can help you narrow down cross reactivities, so you know exactly which foods you must avoid.

Common Rice Allergy Questions

To sum up, these are the most frequently asked questions about rice allergies, along with the basic information you need to stay safe:

What causes rice allergies? 

Rice allergies are caused by an unusual reaction to one or more of the proteins found in rice.

Are rice allergies permanent? 

Many people eventually outgrow rice allergies.

Can rice allergies be cured? 

Rice allergies cannot be cured (yet), but there are treatments to relieve your symptoms.

What treatments are available for rice allergy symptoms? 

The treatment you select depends on the specific reaction you are having. Skin conditions are best treated with antihistamines, while digestive distress may require something to calm nausea and other related issues.

Your physician may recommend an inhaled corticosteroid if you have trouble breathing, and the only effective option for anaphylaxis is an epi-pen.

The bottom line is that an allergy to rice is inconvenient, and the symptoms you experience after coming in contact with rice can be uncomfortable. However, you can eliminate a lot of the risk with careful prevention. If you do consume rice or use rice products, most symptoms are easy to treat.

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