What are the Symptoms of Salicylate Sensitivity?

by | Sep 6, 2022

Ever indulged in a slice or two of tomatoey pizza and experienced a migraine the next day? Or perhaps you ordered smashed avocado for brunch and left with a stomach ache, ringing in the ears and a persistent cough? You could be one of the unfortunate souls who suffer from salicylate sensitivity.

While the average person can tolerate salicylates in normal dietary doses, some people experience a reaction due to their inability to properly metabolise and excrete the chemical from their body. For some, it might take a few days of eating foods high in salicylate for the chemical to build up in their body before symptoms ensue, for others a few hours – it really does depend on an individual’s tolerance to the chemical.

A multi-system disorder, symptoms vary depending on the target organ susceptibility of the individual, and the amount ingested. Where an adverse reaction may lead to severe headache in one person, another may experience no headache at all, but instead skin rash or digestive issues. Interestingly, food chemical sensitivity appears to have a genetic component, usually affecting the same system across generations.

The most commonly reported symptoms of salicylate sensitivity include:

  • Migraine and headaches
  • Asthma-like symptoms (wheezing, trouble breathing)
  • Chronic cough
  • Nasal congestion, runny nose, nasal polyps
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Stomach pain, nausea, gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation
  • Eczema, itching, skin rash or hives
  • Tinnitus (ringing of the ears)
  • Muscle tremors, twitches, joint pain
  • Urinary incontinence, increased frequency, cystitis
  • Agitation, aggression, irritability, attention difficulties
  • Depression, anxiety, panic attacks
  • Sleep disturbance

It’s important to keep in mind that many of the above symptoms overlap with a myriad of other health conditions which is why it’s important to always seek a healthcare provider’s advice to rule out any condition before diagnosing yourself with a salicylate sensitivity.

If you do end up being diagnosed with salicylate sensitivity, the good news is that there are ways to minimise symptoms, often through dietary and lifestyle changes.

Brigid xx

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 


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