Rice is considered as staple food in various parts of the world. Although rare, yet some people develop allergy to rice. According to reports, rice elicits allergic reactions in 10 per cent population in Asia. The incidence graph decreases in the United States and Europe.
What is rice allergy?
Rice allergy is basically an abnormal response of the body’s immune system to the proteins found in rice. It is a relatively uncommon food allergy. Rice is a great gluten-free alternative; hence, people mostly rely on it if they become allergic to gluten sources. This might be the probable cause of increasing rice allergy.
The major allergen from rice grains is a family of 14-16 kDa proteins. Another major allergen has been identified as a 33 kDa protein. Sometimes, a 60 kDa minor allergen is also responsible for triggering allergic reaction in the body. These are ingestive allergens. There is another aeroallergen (Ory S 1) present in rice that belongs to the grass pollen group 1 allergens. When the immune system fails to recognize these proteins as harmless, render them as harmful pathogens. As a result of which, production of immunoglobulin E antibodies is triggered. During consecutive attack by the same pathogen, the antibodies engulf the antigenic particles and signal the immune system to release histamines and other harmful chemicals. These chemicals initiate allergic reactions throughout the body.
Symptoms of rice allergy
Rice allergy can be characterized by mild as well as severe symptoms. Mild symptoms include the following:
Symptoms related to skin and mucous membrane
- Atopic dermatitis
- Contact urticaria
- Swelling of skin
- Itchy rashes
- Laryngeal edema
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal cramps
- Breathing troubles
Signs of severe allergic reaction with rice
Severe reactions associated with rice allergy include anaphylaxis and exercise-induced anaphylaxis. Signs and Symptoms of anaphylaxis reaction include the following:
- Extreme difficulty to breathe
- Troubled swallowing due to swelling in throat
- Constriction of airway
- Abrupt drop in blood pressure
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Loss of consciousness
- Passing out
Diagnosis & Test
Every allergy requires proper diagnosis to be done on time to avoid the complications. Likewise, rice allergy demands formal diagnosis to be done to attain a clear picture of the allergy. Accordingly, treatments are suggested. The tests adopted for diagnosis of rice allergy are:
Skin prick test: It is a skin test wherein a small portion of the skin is pricked with the help of a needle and a tiny amount of suspected allergen extract is administered in the pricked area. If the individual is allergic to the suspected allergen, there is a rise of bumps in the pricked area.
Blood test: In this form of diagnosis, blood is particularly checked for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies. If the antibodies are present in the bloodstream, it confirms the allergy.
Some factors heighten the risk of developing allergy to rice. Such risk factors are discussed below:
Infants are at greater risk of being allergic to rice as compared to adults. They gradually outgrow their allergy with time.
If mother is allergic to rice, there is a huge amount of risk associated with breast-feeding. The infant surviving on mother’s milk might well develop allergy to rice.
There is a considerable risk for the dwellers of those areas where rice is the primary food to develop allergy to it. The parts of the world where inhabitants do not survive on rice have less incidences of rice allergy.
A patient of existing asthma is more likely to develop allergy to rice because of the presence of a major aeroallergen in rice. This type of allergic reaction can be linked to pollen food syndrome.
Besides life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction, rice allergy can put forth quite a lot of complications if not treated well on time. Severe symptoms like atopic dermatitis with ocular complications might crop up. There is also a chance of food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome to develop if rice allergy symptoms get complicated.
Treatment of Rice Allergy
The first line of treatment is elimination diet, i.e. a diet devoid of rice and rice-containing foods. To ensure that none of the food product has rice content, it is important to be aware of the sources of rice allergen. There are many out-of-the-blue food products, which contain rice as a hidden ingredient. Doctors sometimes recommend hypoallergenic rice-to-rice allergic patients because it has proved itself to be a great alternative without inducing any harmful reaction.
Anti-histamines are recommended as medications for mild symptoms of rice allergy. These are available as both prescribed drugs as well as over-the-counter drugs. Anaphylaxis is treated with injections of epinephrine and a trip to the emergency room. An individual who is prone to anaphylaxis attacks are advised to carry auto-injectors of epinephrine all the time with them. Epinephrine helps in managing the initial attack of anaphylaxis and helps to bring the situation under control. However, it is mandatory for an anaphylaxis patient to visit emergency medical care even after the situation is brought under control for a complete follow-up and monitoring of the symptoms from time to time.
Dietary changes and caution
Diet plays a significant role in the management of every food allergy and rice allergy is certainly not an exception in this case. A diet devoid of rice is the first look out for every individual who is detected with rice allergy. Besides avoiding rice, all those foodstuffs that have rice as an essential content must as well be avoided.
As a precautionary measure, cooking food at home is the best option. If dining out is a necessity, one should feel free to ask questions to the concerned person regarding the ingredients involved in the ordered dish. Likewise, food labels should be read as a part of habit while purchasing any foodstuffs. In case of any discrepancy, one should directly contact the manufacturer for a deeper insight into the ingredients.