Onion Allergy – Everything You Need To Know

There are many different food related allergies that people are familiar with.

These allergies range from foods such as peanuts to various fruits and other fresh foods. An allergy that most people who do not deal with food related allergies on a daily basis do not think about is the onion allergy.

This oversight is largely because it is so uncommon with only about 3% of adults suffering from this particular type of allergy, according to Allergysymptomsx.(1)

Although, one test, by Immunologie Clinique et Allergologie-Hôpital Central in Nancy, showed that 4.6 percent of children and 7.7 percent of adults are sensitive garlic, onion and chive.(2)

Having an understanding of the onion allergy is important if you enjoy cooking for other people or experimenting with different foods. It is also important if there is any possibility that you may be dealing with the allergy on a personal level.


The Reality of Onion Allergies

An onion allergy is a negative reaction to onions and other foods in the same family as the onion.

These reactions can be a simple intolerance or much more severe.

For those who must deal with an intolerance to onions, they can typically eat a small amount of cooked onion and still be okay without displaying any serious negative reactions.

But those who are more severely allergic to onions can range in their reactions to onions.

Some people will suffer a mild form of an allergic reaction and have minor symptoms including such things as hives. Those with a more serious reaction to onions may even have problems just breathing in the smell of onions without having an allergic reaction that can compromise their health.


Foods and Other Things to Avoid

While onions are the main food that someone will want to be cautious of when dealing with an onion allergy, there are other foods that reside in the onion family that those with an allergy should be careful around or avoid completely.

Those with the allergy may not have any reaction to these foods but there is a better chance of an allergic reaction to foods in the same family as the onion.

These foods include:

» Garlic

» Leeks

» Chives

» Scallions

» Shallots

» Broth/Stock

» Pre made soups and sauces

» Processed or canned meat

» Saltine crackers

There are also things beyond these foods that someone with an allergy to onions should avoid or be very careful around. The sap from certain flowers can also trigger the allergic reaction.

These flowers include:

» Lilies

» Daffodils

» Tulips

» Agapanthus

» Iris

» Alstroemeria


Symptoms To Be Aware Of

With regards to an onion allergy, there are many potential symptoms that anyone dealing with food allergies should be aware of and know how to recognize.

These symptoms can be either internal or external depending upon the severity of the allergic reaction.

Internal symptoms are typically caused by ingesting some form of onion while any of the potential external symptoms are caused by either direct contact or by smelling an onion.

The level of severity for an allergic reaction can easily differ from person to person.

But there are many common reactions that anyone with allergies to onions may experience and should be able to recognize.

The internal or external symptoms can include any number of the following(3,4)

» Rashes or Hives

» Fatigue

» Itching

» Swelling of the Lips or Other Body Parts

» Mental Disorientation

» Difficulty Breathing

» Bloating

» Gas or Diarrhea

» Too Much Burping

» Fainting

» Asthma

» Sore Throat

» Nausea

» Puffy Eyes/Face

» Mouth or Gum Blisters

» Burning Sensation on Mouth

» Tongue Blisters

» Anaphylactic Shock


Proper Testing and Diagnosis

If you believe that you or someone that you know may have allergy to onions (or any other food allergy), there are some steps that you should take as soon as possible.

These basic steps will help determine whether or not you really have an allergy to onions and how you should handle this allergy in your day to day life.

The first step that anyone should take is to see your personal doctor or other medical professional so that they can perform the necessary tests on you that can be used to verify whether or not you have the onion allergy.

The test could be a skin prick or patch test, being placed on an elimination diet or having a blood test done. Any of these tests can easily confirm whether or not you actually have a food allergy of any kind.

Once the onion allergy has been confirmed, the medical professional will discuss the next steps with you for your specific case. The first thing that you should do is avoid eating onions or any of the other foods that were mentioned above that belong in the onion family.

Beyond avoiding the onions or related foods from the produce section, you should also check the nutritional label on anything that you buy. This is especially true for prepackaged foods. Many of the prepackaged foods found in grocery stores contain at least a small amount of onions and should be avoided.

Beyond watching what you buy in the supermarket, you should also be extremely cautious about what you eat in any restaurant.

Many foods that are served in restaurants may contain onions in such a way that it cannot be avoided and that many servers will not be aware of the presence of onions in the food.


Treatment for an Allergic Reaction

Even if you are extremely careful with regards to avoiding onions, there is always a chance of coming into contact with onions and having an allergic reaction.

Being aware of the actions that you should take is a vital part of managing your allergy successfully.

When you become aware of your allergy, it is important to share this information with various people in your family, among your friends and at your job.

By sharing this information, you will help prepare those around you for the chance that you have an allergic reaction and need more help than you are able to provide yourself.

There are various medicines available for the more mild allergic reactions. These include such things as antihistamines for skin related reactions. Topical creams and ointments are a great choice for those suffering from skin related issues.

If topical creams and ointments are not available then aloe vera will work just as well for most skin related allergic reactions. If the reaction that you experience is more like an asthma attack and leaves you with any kind of breathing difficulties, an albuterol inhaler is an ideal choice.

But if you have a much more severe reaction such as anaphylactic shock, an epi-pen will become necessary. (check price on amazon)

No matter the severity of the allergic reaction, seeking out medical attention is always advised.

If the reaction is very severe, seeking immediate help at an emergency room or urgent care center is the best course of action.



The onion allergy is a more unique allergy when compared to such allergies as the peanut allergy.

Although it is more rare, an onion allergy is every bit as severe as the more common and well known food allergies. To determine whether or not you have an onion allergy, visiting a medical professional is an important first step.

Once you are sure that you have the allergy to onions, being aware of what all can cause an allergic reaction beyond simply the onions themselves is one of the most important steps required to avoid suffering from any of a wide range of allergic reactions.

Beyond knowing what foods and plants to stay away from or to be wary of to avoid an allergic reaction, it is also important to know how to handle the allergic reaction when it actually does happen. Being prepared for this to happen and knowing how to react would be the best way to prevent any long lasting health issues.

The proper steps to take to confirm your allergy and handle the allergy every day will vary depending upon your unique needs.

Speaking with your personal doctor on how to handle your allergy and what medicines are safe for you to take is necessary to stay healthy and be on top of your allergy at all times.

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