Citric Acid Allergy: Recognize the Signs and Symptoms and Learn How to Prevent Reactions

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Food allergies are no fun for those who suffer from them. Although a citric acid allergy is not among the most common food allergies, it still affects many people. Children are more often allergic to foods than adults as some of them outgrow their allergies, yet it is a condition which affects all kinds of people.


The most common symptoms for a food allergy like the citric acid allergy concern the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. They range from itching lips and mouth to a swollen throat and severe stomach cramps. As soon as the airways are concerned, you should call an ambulance at once. Swellings can block the airways completely and result in suffocating. People with asthma have a greater risk of experiencing life-threatening symptoms.

Stomach and intestine cramps, diarrhea, nausea and pain on the other hand, are not life-threatening. Nonetheless, they are very upsetting and you should see a doctor about it.

The skin is often affected as well. It can swell on places which haven’t been in contact with the allergen at all. Often, the skin begins to itch too.

Less common symptoms include the life-threatening allergic shock, an anaphylaxis. If an allergic shock occurs, breathing and circulation are affected. Among the symptoms are a severe drop in blood pressure, a quickening pulse rate and difficulties in breathing. You must call an ambulance at once because an allergic shock can result in death when it isn’t treated.

Symptoms often appear within minutes of consuming the allergen. Sometimes they can appear as late as two hours after the consummation.

What to Do to Prevent Reactions

The most effective way to prevent reactions to a citric acid allergy is to avoid the allergen. In the case of citric acid, however, it is quite difficult as it is used as acidifier in many products. You have to read the contents of everything you eat very carefully. When you eat out, you better ask if citric acid is used in any part of the preparation process before ordering anything.

Where Can You Find Citric Acid?

First of all, citric acid is found in citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and grapefruits. It is moreover found in berries like raspberries, red and black currants and cowberries, in apples, pears and sour cherries. Unfortunately, citric acid is used as acidifier in many products like jam, marmalade, ice cream, lemonade, iced tea, baked goods and sweets like wine gums. Moreover, it is even found in small quantities in milk, cheese and meat products.

Citric acid is used in the preparation process of salads as well so be careful when you buy those in a supermarket. The producers don’t need to include citric acid in the contents when they only use it during the preparation process; the prepared products still contain citric acid, though.


University of Maryland: Medical Center -

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases -

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America - -