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Histamine is a neurotransmitter produced to protect the body from pathogens and other foreign substances. While histamine works to protect the body, some people develop an intolerance or allergic reaction to it. Signs of an allergic reaction to histamine include stomach problems, hives, eczema and hay fever. A severe intolerance may even lead to more serious conditions like irregular heartbeat, anaphylactic shock and asthma. To treat this condition, sufferers are urged to change their diet and use an anti-histamine to control their symptoms.
Those suffering from this condition must first understand the causes for an allergic reaction to histamine in order to then understand the condition itself. An allergic reaction to histamine is usually due to a lack of diamine oxidase (DAO), which is an enzyme that aids in the breakdown of histamine. Created in the body, histamine is also present in many foods. When a person consumes these foods but is unable to process the histamine, it begins to collect in the body.
An overabundance of this substance can cause a person to develop an allergic reaction to histamine. The most common signs of an allergic reaction include headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, congestion, fatigue, chills, sleep problems, runny nose, hives and eczema. Some people also begin suffering from sudden changes in mood or anxiety. Due to the broad range of symptoms, this condition is often mistaken for a cold, flu or other illness.
In severe cases, histamine intolerance can lead to more serious types of allergic reactions. A histamine intolerance can cause asthma, heart palpitations, increased heart rate, hypotension and anaphylactic shock. Patients who exhibit these symptoms should conduct a physician immediately.
To control an allergic reaction to histamine, many patients are told to change their diet. Eliminating foods with histamine from one’s diet will typically improve the condition. Foods high in histamine include yeast, cheese, soy products, shellfish, spoiled fish, beans, fermented foods, cured meats, chocolate, wheat and several types of fruit. Many microwaveable meals and other preservative-laden foods also contain this substance. Avoiding such foods will reduce a person’s chances of suffering an allergic reaction.
Supplements and anti-histamines can also be used to treat patients. Some physicians recommend taking supplements containing DOA, vitamin B6 and vitamin C to increase a patient's histamine tolerance. Anti-histamines can be used if a person begins noticing symptoms or accidentally consumes a histamine-containing food. Patients should also discuss any medications they are taking with their physician, as some medications reduce the effectiveness of DAO.