Do you love eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast but get a runny nose or find yourself blotchy every time you eat something that has oats in it?
Then, you might have an oat allergy. This happens due to the presence of the protein called avenin in oats.1
Oat allergy results in the activation of the immune system in your body which then triggers the formation of antibodies that react to the avenin in your body.1
It is important to consult your doctor if you think you may have an oat allergy, as symptoms may be caused by something else, rather than a specific reaction to
Symptoms of oat allergy
Oat allergy can be seen in infants as well as in adults.
The general symptoms of Oat allergy are as follows and can be seen affecting the gut, skin, and airways:
- Blotchy, irritated, or itchy skin
- Skin irritation in the form of rashes on and/or inside the mouth
- Scratchy throat and runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Stomach pain and Diarrhoea
- Breathing difficulty
- A sudden decrease in blood pressure can result in a shock-Anaphylaxis[3,4]
Sometimes Oat allergy can result in milder symptoms, which take longer to develop.
However, when kept unchecked it could lead to chronic conditions which could be really harmful or even lethal for the individual.
The mild symptoms generally as a result of Oat allergy are:3,4
- Stomach irritation and inflammation
Studies have shown that Oat allergy in children can result in food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES).
This condition is known to affect the gastrointestinal tract causing vomiting, diarrhea, and poor growth.2
Studies have also shown that Oat allergy can happen not only when ingested but also upon topical application.
A lot of lotions and skin care products have trace amounts of Oats present in them, which have been shown to result in allergic reactions in children as well as adults.2
People with an oat allergy should avoid anything that contains oats.
This could be food items such as muesli, granola bars, porridge, oatmeal cookies, beer, oatmeal cake or pancakes, and oat milk.
It can also include cosmetic products that contain oats or any form of avenin, such as oat bath soaps or lotions.
Oat allergies can be diagnosed using the following tests:5,6
- Skin prick or scratch test: This is a general test that can be useful to check the allergic response to several antigens at once. The doctor puts a lancet with different antigens, histamine, and saline under the skin of your forearm to check which one reacts and generates a response. This test is not painful but it takes around 20- 40 minutes to be completed.
- Patch test: Patches containing different allergens are placed at different spots on your arm and let for up to two days in order to check for the development of any response.
- Oral food challenge: This test requires you to ingest increasing amounts of an allergen in order to check your tolerance level. This kind of test should be done in the presence of medical supervision so that proper medical care can be given at the earliest if required.
- Fiocchi A, et al. (2017). Food allergy.
- Boussalt P, et al. (2007). Oat sensitization in children with atopic dermatitis: Prevalence, risks and associated factors.
- Li J. (2017). Food allergy vs. food sensitivity: What’s the difference?
- Maglio, M., et al. Immunogenicity of two oat varieties, in relation to their safety for celiac patients. (2011). DOI: https://doi.org/10.3109/00365521.2011.603159
- Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Allergy skin tests.
- Oral food challenge. (n.d.).
- Image by xiaoji sun from Pixabay