Managing Histamine Allergy: Symptoms, Foods, and Treatments

Wyndly Care Team
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Can you be allergic to histamine?

No, you cannot be allergic to histamine. Histamine is a chemical your body produces naturally during an allergic reaction. However, some people have histamine intolerance, where the body struggles to break down histamine, leading to symptoms similar to an allergic reaction.

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What is Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance results when the body accumulates histamine faster than it can break down. This imbalance often leads to symptoms that resemble allergic reactions. Since histamine is involved in various bodily processes, such intolerance can affect a multitude of systems in the body.

Histamine is a compound involved in local immune responses and acts as a neurotransmitter. During an allergic reaction, the body releases histamine, leading to inflammation and typical allergy symptoms. More information on histamine's role in allergies can be found here.

Histamine intolerance isn't an allergy, but it can feel like one. Symptoms may include headaches, hives, irregular menstrual cycles, and digestive issues. Histamine intolerance can also exacerbate conditions such as allergic rhinitis. It's important to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options, which may include antihistamines or dietary adjustments. More on managing histamine intolerance can be found here.

What Causes Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is typically caused by a deficiency in an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). This enzyme is primarily responsible for breaking down histamine in the body. When DAO levels are low, histamine can accumulate, leading to symptoms of intolerance.

DAO can be inhibited by a variety of factors including gastrointestinal disorders, certain medications, and alcohol. Reduced DAO activity can also result due to genetic predisposition. If your body isn't producing enough DAO, it can struggle to break down histamine, leading to an overabundance and subsequent symptoms.

Histamine can also be introduced to the body via diet. Certain foods and drinks, particularly those that are fermented or aged, are high in histamine. If your DAO levels are already low, consuming histamine-rich foods can worsen symptoms of intolerance.

What Are the Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance presents a range of symptoms that can often resemble those of an allergic reaction. This is because histamine, a chemical involved in many of our body's processes, plays a significant role in allergic responses. When histamine levels are too high, the body reacts similarly to how it would when facing an allergen.

Common Symptoms of Histamine Intolerance

Common symptoms include headaches, nasal congestion, skin issues such as hives and rashes, digestive problems, and irregular menstrual cycles in women. These symptoms can be mistaken for common allergies or other conditions, so it's essential to seek professional medical advice if you suspect you have histamine intolerance. Remember, histamine intolerance is not an allergy but an imbalance in the body's ability to break down histamine.

Digestive Symptoms and Histamine Intolerance

Histamine plays a key role in the digestive system, helping regulate stomach acid to break down food. When there's too much histamine, people may experience digestive symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. These symptoms can have a significant impact on quality of life and are often the most noticeable signs of histamine intolerance. For a more comprehensive understanding, check out this guide on managing histamine intolerance.

How Do Doctors Test for Histamine Intolerance?

Diagnosing histamine intolerance can be a complex process due to its overlapping symptoms with other conditions. A doctor or allergist typically begins with a thorough medical history and physical examination. They might also recommend specific tests to further determine if histamine intolerance is the cause of the symptoms.

Elimination Diet and Food Diary

Another diagnostic approach is an elimination diet, coupled with a food diary. This involves removing high-histamine foods from the diet for a few weeks, then gradually reintroducing them to see if symptoms recur. The food diary helps track what was eaten and any subsequent reactions. This approach provides insight into whether dietary histamine is triggering symptoms.

Skin Prick Test

In some cases, a skin prick test may be performed. However, this test is more commonly used for diagnosing traditional allergies rather than histamine intolerance. Should you need more information on how histamines affect the body, you can refer to this comprehensive guide on histamine.

What Foods Contain High Levels of Histamine?

Certain foods naturally contain high levels of histamine or can trigger the body to produce more histamine. These foods can exacerbate symptoms in individuals with histamine intolerance. It's important to note that the histamine content can vary depending on how the food is stored and prepared.

Foods High in Histamine

High-histamine foods include fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt; aged cheeses; alcohol, particularly red wine and beer; vinegar; smoked or canned fish; and cured meats. Other culprits include avocados, eggplant, spinach, tomatoes, and foods high in yeast. It's also worth noting that leftover foods can develop higher histamine levels due to bacterial activity during storage.

Low-Histamine Alternatives

Fortunately, there are numerous low-histamine foods that can help manage histamine levels. Freshly cooked meat or fish, non-citrus fruits, gluten-free grains, fresh vegetables (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant), and dairy substitutes like almond or coconut milk are generally well tolerated. Your best approach is to maintain a balanced diet with a variety of these low-histamine foods.

For more detailed information on managing histamine intolerance through dietary changes, you can consult this comprehensive guide.

Why Should Foods High in Histamine Be Avoided?

Foods high in histamine should be avoided because they can exacerbate the symptoms of histamine intolerance. Consuming these foods can trigger the release of excess histamine in the body, leading to inflammation and allergic reactions. This is particularly problematic for individuals whose bodies have difficulty breaking down histamine effectively.

Histamine is a compound that plays a key role in our immune response, regulating stomach acid, and causing allergy symptoms. When present in excess, it can lead to symptoms of histamine intolerance, such as headaches, hives, flushing, heart palpitations, and digestive issues. In some severe cases, high histamine levels can even cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

While avoiding high-histamine foods won't cure histamine intolerance, it can significantly help manage symptoms. It's an integral part of a broader management plan, which should also involve regular consultation with a healthcare professional and may include treatments like antihistamines or sublingual immunotherapy.

How Can One Manage Histamine Levels with Diet?

Histamine levels can be managed with diet by avoiding high-histamine foods, focusing on fresh, low-histamine alternatives, and possibly incorporating certain supplements. An individualized dietary plan can help reduce the severity of histamine intolerance symptoms.

The first step in managing histamine levels with diet involves identifying and avoiding foods high in histamine. These typically include fermented foods, alcohol, aged cheeses, smoked meats, and certain types of fish.

Next, it's important to focus on incorporating fresh, low-histamine foods into your diet. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, freshly cooked meats, and certain types of grains. These foods not only provide essential nutrients but also help to minimize the dietary intake of histamine.

Finally, certain natural antihistamines and supplements may also help manage histamine levels. These include vitamin C, quercetin, and probiotics, which can help to stabilize the cells in your body that release histamine and support gut health. It's important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

For more detailed information about managing histamine intolerance through diet, check out this comprehensive guide.

What Are the Treatments for Histamine Intolerance?

Histamine intolerance is typically managed through a combination of dietary changes, antihistamine medications, and sublingual immunotherapy. Each of these approaches can be personalized to the individual's symptoms and lifestyle.


Antihistamines are medications that can help manage the symptoms of histamine intolerance by blocking the action of histamine. This can provide short-term relief from symptoms like sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion that histamine can cause. Antihistamines are available over-the-counter (OTC) and as prescription drugs.

Side Effects of Antihistamines

While antihistamines are generally safe for routine use, they can cause side effects. Common side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, and dizziness. Some people may also experience nausea and confusion. It's important to consult a healthcare professional for advice on using these medications.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy is a treatment approach that can help the body develop a tolerance to histamine. This is done by introducing small amounts of allergens under the tongue, which can help the immune system become less reactive to them over time. For more information about sublingual immunotherapy, check out this comprehensive guide.

How to Live With Histamine Intolerance?

Living with histamine intolerance involves managing symptoms through a combination of diet, medication, and lifestyle changes. Managing histamine intolerance may seem daunting at first, but through careful planning and support, it can become manageable.

Firstly, it's crucial to follow a low-histamine diet, as certain foods can increase histamine levels in the body. This involves avoiding foods high in histamine and embracing low-histamine alternatives.

Secondly, medications such as antihistamines can provide short-term relief from symptoms. However, it's worth noting that while antihistamines can alleviate symptoms, they do not address the root cause of histamine intolerance.

Lastly, consider lifestyle changes like stress management and regular exercise. Stress can exacerbate symptoms, while exercise can help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Incorporating these changes into your daily life can significantly improve the quality of life for those with histamine intolerance. For further information on managing histamine intolerance and its symptoms, consider consulting a healthcare provider or a specialist in allergic disorders.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of histamine intolerance in the gut?

Histamine intolerance in the gut may present symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach cramps, and acid reflux. Other signs can include chronic headaches, fatigue, and skin rashes. Note that these symptoms can vary among individuals and can often mimic other gastrointestinal disorders.

How can I flush histamine out of my body?

To flush histamine out of your body, you could increase the intake of foods rich in vitamin C and quercetin, like citrus fruits and onions. Drinking plenty of water also helps. Avoiding histamine-rich foods, such as fermented foods, can also decrease histamine levels.

What role does histamine play in allergies?

Histamine plays a central role in allergies. When your body encounters an allergen, it releases histamines, which bind to specific receptors in your body, causing symptoms like itching, swelling, and redness. Antihistamines work by blocking these receptors, thereby reducing allergic reactions.

What are the three responses of histamine?

Histamine, released during an allergic reaction, triggers three primary responses: dilation of blood vessels causing redness and swelling, increased vascular permeability leading to fluid leakage and inflammation, and stimulation of nerve endings resulting in itching or pain. These responses form the classic symptoms of an allergic reaction.

What is the root cause of histamine intolerance?

Histamine intolerance occurs when there's an imbalance in the body, specifically an excess of histamine compared to the body's ability to break it down. This can be due to insufficient production or activity of the enzymes diamine oxidase (DAO) or Histamine-N-methyltransferase (HNMT), which metabolize histamine.

What does a histamine flare up feel like?

A histamine flare-up can manifest as itchy skin, hives, or swelling in the face or throat. Other symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. In severe cases, a rapid pulse, dizziness, or difficulty breathing may occur.

What triggers histamine release?

Histamine release is triggered by exposure to allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold, insect stings, or certain foods and medications. This interaction prompts your immune system to produce antibodies, which stimulate mast cells and basophils to release histamine, leading to allergic symptoms.

How can I lower my histamine levels quickly?

You can lower histamine levels quickly by avoiding high-histamine foods, taking antihistamines, and using a histamine blocker. Additionally, boosting your intake of vitamin C and quercetin can help stabilize mast cells, reducing histamine release. Remember to consult your healthcare provider before starting any new regimen.

What is the best medicine for histamine?

Antihistamines are the best medicines for managing histamine-related symptoms. These include over-the-counter options like cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin). Prescription antihistamines or stronger doses may be prescribed for more severe cases. Always consult with a healthcare professional for proper dosage.

Is Benadryl a histamine?

No, Benadryl is not a histamine. It is an antihistamine, which works by blocking the action of histamines in your body. Histamines are substances released during allergic reactions that cause symptoms like sneezing, itching, and increased mucus production. Benadryl helps to alleviate these symptoms.

What medication stops histamine?

Antihistamines are the most common medication that blocks or reduces histamine production in the body, relieving allergy symptoms. Examples include cetirizine (Zyrtec), loratadine (Claritin), and fexofenadine (Allegra). Other drugs, like corticosteroids and leukotriene inhibitors, can also help manage histamine release.

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