Citric acid is a naturally-occurring acid that is present in all citrus fruits and is synthetically produced from mold and corn for use as a food additive. It is also used as a preservative in various other items, including cosmetics and lotions. An allergy to it can be mild enough to only cause a mild skin reaction or be severe enough to cause potentially life-threatening complications. A simple blood test is usually all that is necessary to determine the presence of a citric acid allergy.
Skin reactions are among the most common symptoms of a citric acid allergy. These symptoms are usually mild and typically involve a rash that may or may not itch. This rash is usually found around the mouth if the citric acid was swallowed or on the area of skin that has come into contact with a product containing this ingredient. In some cases, hives may develop or swelling may be noticed, especially in the facial area of the body. Any potential allergy symptoms should be reported to a medical professional right away.
Breathing difficulties may be caused by an allergy to citric acid. In mild cases, symptoms may include coughing, sneezing, or nasal congestion. Some people may also develop a runny nose or watery eyes. An over-the-counter antihistamine may help to combat these reactions. Severe wheezing or difficulty breathing could indicate a potentially life-threatening medical emergency and should be reported to a medical professional immediately.
Gastrointestinal disturbances may indicate the presence of a citric acid allergy in some cases. Nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea are some of the most common symptoms. Gas, bloating, or intestinal bleeding are also potential gastrointestinal responses to this type of allergy. In babies with an allergy to citric acid, these symptoms may involve excessive drooling or spitting up.
Physical and emotional changes may sometimes develop in those who have this type of allergy. Muscle pain and severe fatigue are possible symptoms that are often overlooked. Mood changes, such as irritability, a feeling of anxiety, or unexplained bouts of crying, are sometimes experienced as well. For milder symptoms, eliminating citric acid from the diet may be all that is needed. More severe symptoms require immediate medical attention in order to avoid potentially fatal complications.