Vinegar Allergy: Causes & Symptoms

What is Vinegar Allergy?

Vinegar is an acidic liquid that is made by the formation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. It contains water, acetic acid, and a small number of chemicals and flavorings.

Vinegar is used as an ingredient in pickling food, in sauces, and in salad dressings. It adds acidity to the dish.

Vinegar is also used as a household cleaner and in some traditional medicinal, is practiced as a remedy.(1)

When consumed in moderate amounts, it can be safe. However, some people experience side effects or adverse reactions after vinegar.

What is Vinegar Allergy?

What Causes Vinegar Allergy?

Intolerance or sensitivity to one or more ingredients present in vinegar may lead to vinegar allergy. It does not cause the same immune response as in other food allergies.(2)

Sometimes there are symptoms that mimic true food allergy and these are also known as pseudo allergic reactions.(3,4)

The ingredient in vinegar that might be responsible for allergic reactions are:

  • Salicylates
  • Histamines
  • Acetic Acid
  • Sulfites

These ingredients may lead to allergic symptoms that can range from mild to severe.

Salicylate Sensitivity

Salicylates are a type of salicylic acid that is present in some foods and beverages. They are also used in synthetic forms in medications and other products.(3,4)

The amount of salicylate present in vinegar depends on the type of vinegar.(5)

Salicylates do not cause any harm to most people. Those with salicylate sensitivity experience allergic symptoms after consuming an excess of it.

Some people experience severe allergic reactions to acetylsalicylic acid, a type of salicylate present in aspirin. However, being sensitive to aspirin does not mean a person is sensitive to vinegar as well.(6)

Histamine Sensitivity

Histamine is a compound that is naturally present in the body. It is also present in some foods and drinks.(7)

Histamine plays an important role in many functions such as inflammation, the body’s response to allergens, and the overall immune system.(8)

People who are sensitive to histamine are not able to tolerate it well. There are numerous factors that might lead to histamine sensitivity:(7,9,10)

  • Genetics
  • Dietary intake
  • Medications
  • Enzyme deficiency
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gut bacteria
  • Dietary intake

Along with containing histamine, vinegar stimulates the body to release histamine.

Those sensitive to histamine develop a range of symptoms after eating vinegar or other histamine-containing food.(11)

Sulfite Sensitivity

Sulfites are the compounds added to the food additives to preserve food. They are also present in cosmetics and medications.(12)

There also found naturally occurring in some foods and drinks, especially fermented liquids.(13,14)

Some people experience sulfite sensitivity after consuming large amounts of this compound. Those with asthma or other allergies are more likely to show sulfite sensitivity and may show symptoms similar to asthma.

Acetic Acid Intolerance

Acetic acid is the main by-product of the fermentation of ethanol or sugar. Vinegar contains around 5% of acetic acid.

Acetic acid may be responsible for some of the health benefits of vinegar such as antimicrobial and positive effect on blood sugar levels.(15)

Some people are intolerant to acetic acid.(16) They may encounter an allergic reaction to consuming large amounts of acetic acid.

Some may also experience side effects after consuming acetic acid orally or on direct skin exposure.

Symptoms of Vinegar Allergy

Some of the common symptoms of vinegar allergy are:

There are multiple ingredients present in vinegar that may lead to pseudo allergies. If you suspect yourself being allergic to vinegar, it is best to consult a medical professional to get the condition diagnosed and managed.

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