Soy Allergy Facts

Perhaps you had Chinese food last week and shortly afterward, you felt your tongue swell, you broke out in hives and started wheezing. If this sounds familiar, you could be allergic to soy beans, a common ingredient used in some of the popular dishes.

The Basics of a Soy Allergy

 Many people assume that a soy allergy is a problem mainly facing infants and toddlers who drink soy milk or consume soy-based formulas. But in fact, having an immune system reaction to soy products is a growing concern for adults today, too, so it's important to recognize the signs and know what to do about it.

The Risk that Exists

Anyone can experience an allergic reaction to soy, but in fact, you may be at increased risk if you have a family history of this or other food types of allergies. People with an allergy to wheat, beans, milk and other types of foods may also be more prone to this condition.

Signs of a Soy Allergy

If you have a reaction to soy, when you consume something containing soybeans or related ingredients, within a few minutes to about an hour you may suddenly experience some of the following uncomfortable symptoms that can be difficult to ignore:

  • Tingling feeling in your mouth, sometimes accompanied by swelling of the lips, face, throat or tongue
  • Hives, rash and itching
  • Wheezing
  • Stomach pains, diarrhea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting

More Serious Soy Allergy Dangers

While most of the time the effects of a soy allergy will be mild, some people can find themselves experiencing more serious symptoms, too, such as shock, trouble breathing, inability to swallow, weak, rapid pulse or flushing throughout your body. These can be signs of an anaphylaxis reaction and require immediate medical attention.

Protect Yourself

When you're dealing with a soy allergy, the best way to protect yourself is to become aware of the ingredients contained in the things you eat and drink. Some people who're allergic to soy also need to steer clear of peanuts, too, since they contain a similar protein.  In addition to the expected culprits, you'll also need to recognize the types of foods that could contain soy but may be less obvious. Please review some of the following things you may need to avoid:

  • Tofu
  • Asian foods
  • Meat products
  • Baked goods
  • Ice creams
  • Condiments
  • Butter substitutes
  • Certain types of broths

Check and Check Again

Since any of these, and a host of other, items can be hidden sources of soy, it's essential that you read labels and ask lots of questions in restaurants and stores. Also keep in mind that the ingredients used in foods can change over time, so never take for granted that you won't have a reaction just because you didn't the last time you ate or drank something.

Be Prepared

If you're exposed to soy inadvertently and experience mild discomfort, your doctor may recommend you take an antihistamine. But if you're at risk for experiencing more serious symptoms, you'll probably need to carry an epi-pen to protect yourself in an emergency.


Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

The Cleveland Clinic