Hereditary angioedema, a rare genetic disorder, manifests with recurring episodes of severe swelling affecting the face, extremities, gastrointestinal tract, and airways, often leading to breathing difficulties. While these episodes can be distressing, there are treatment options available, including Haegarda, Berinert, Firazyr, Takhyzyro, and Orladeyo, to name a few. Various factors can trigger these episodes, such as mental stress, infections, trauma, fatigue, physical exertion, weather conditions, and dietary choices. In this article, we’ll focus on common food triggers associated with breathing issues in hereditary angioedema:
1. High-histamine foods
Histamine is a chemical in the body that plays a role in allergic reactions, and some foods are naturally high in it, potentially triggering episodes in individuals with hereditary angioedema. Some of the foods include: aged cheeses, smoked and cured meats, fermented foods like sauerkraut, and certain alcoholic beverages, such as red wine and champagne. With HAE, it’s important to be mindful of your histamine intake, as these foods may contribute to swelling and breathing difficulties.
2. Tree nuts
People with hereditary angioedema are frequently advised to steer clear of tree nuts, as they commonly trigger swelling and breathing problems. This category includes walnuts, cashews, almonds, and similar nuts.
3. Spicy foods
Ingredients like chili peppers, hot sauces, jalapeños, cayenne pepper flakes, and other spicy components often used to add flavor to dishes can pose risks for individuals with hereditary angioedema. Spice is a known trigger, so consider reducing the level of spiciness in your meals or entirely eliminating spicy foods and ingredients from your diet.
4. Food additives
Surprisingly, some food additives such as preservatives and artificial sweeteners can act as triggers for hereditary angioedema in certain individuals. Always read food labels carefully and avoid products containing these additives.
5. Artificial food coloring and flavorings
Artificial food coloring and flavorings found in many processed foods and beverages can be problematic for individuals with hereditary angioedema. These artificial additives have been known to trigger allergic reactions and exacerbate symptoms in some cases, so be sure to review ingredient labels carefully and consider opting for natural and unprocessed alternatives whenever possible.
It’s crucial to remain vigilant and attentive to your body’s reactions after consuming various foods. If any food item triggers an episode, make a note of it and avoid it in the future. Always consult with your healthcare provider regarding dietary choices, as individual reactions can vary significantly. Work closely with your doctor to create a personalized diet plan tailored to your specific needs and sensitivities.