Histamine intolerance refers to the intolerance of dietary histamine. Such intolerance can be manifested by a whole range of symptoms, including redness and gastrointestinal discomfort. We reveal how to properly treat histamine intolerance and which medications can help with acute ailments. We also provide you with a list of foods that you should avoid if you suspect histamine intolerance.
What is a histamine intolerance?
Histamine is a messenger that is released in the body during allergic reactions. However, it is not only produced in the body but also in many foods. However, histamine-containing foods are poorly tolerated by some people. They cause unpleasant symptoms after consumption, such as redness, gastrointestinal complaints or a stuffy nose.
Especially women are affected
It is estimated that at least one percent of the population in Germany suffers from histamine intolerance. The majority of those affected - about 80 percent - is female. Especially common are middle-aged women. Doctors suspect that intolerance is not innate in most sufferers but has been acquired in the course of life.
Causes of histamine intolerance
In the case of histamine intolerance, allergy-like symptoms occur after eating foods that contain a lot of histamine. In contrast to an allergy, however, there is no reaction of the immune system - therefore one speaks of a pseudoallergy. Because not the messenger substance itself, but only the disturbed degradation and the concomitant increased histamine concentration ensure that it comes to complaints.
Normally, histamine in the small intestine is degraded by the enzyme DAO (diamine oxidase). In histamine intolerance, however, this degradation does not work smoothly and it accumulates histamine in the body. Possible causes include a lack of enzymes in the body as well as a reduced enzyme activity. A DAO deficiency can be caused inter alia by chronic intestinal diseases.
Reasons for reduced enzyme activity
A reduced enzyme activity indicates that the enzymes are claimed by other substances - for example, alcohol or certain drugs in question. Some medicines also help to release histamine stored in the body.
Among the drugs that may be associated with histamine intolerance include:
- clavulanic acid
Histamine intolerance: typical symptoms
The symptoms characteristic of histamine intolerance always occur when there is too much histamine in the blood. Most of the time they are noticeable about one hour after consumption of food containing particularly histamine. The symptoms that occur vary from person to person.
In histamine intolerance, symptoms such as:
- a headache
- Gastrointestinal complaints (diarrhea, bloating, heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain)
- sudden redness of the skin (flush)
Most skin redness is associated with a more or less intense itching. Due to the gastrointestinal discomfort, doctors sometimes misdiagnose an irritable bowel.
In addition to these symptoms, histamine intolerance can be manifested by a number of other symptoms:
- Cardiovascular disorders
- sleep disorders
- body aches
- bladder infections
- a stuffy or suddenly runny nose