Salicylate sensitivity

Salicylate sensitivity

Salicylate sensitivity, also known as salicylate intolerance, is any adverse effect that occurs when a normal amount of salicylate (salicylic acid) is introduced into a person's body. People with salicylate intolerance are unable to consume a normal amount of salicylate without adverse effects. Depending on whether the salicylate is a component of food or medicine, salicylate intolerance is a form of food intolerance or of drug intolerance. It is a pharmacological reaction, not an allergy.

Salicylates are chemicals that occur naturally in plants and serve as a natural immune hormone and preservative, protecting the plants against diseases, insects, fungi, and harmful bacteria. Salicylate can also be found synthetically in many medications, perfumes and preservatives. This chemical can cause health problems in anyone when consumed in large doses. But, for those who are salicylate intolerant even small doses of salicylate can cause reactions.


An important salicylate drug is aspirin, which has a long history. Aspirin intolerance was widely known by 1975, when the understanding began to emerge that it is a pharmacological reaction, not an allergy.cite journal
author = Casterline CL
title = Intolerance to aspirin
journal = Am Fam Physician
volume = 12
issue = 5
pages = 119–22
year = 1975
month = November
pmid = 1199905
doi =
url =
issn =
] cite journal
author = Patriarca G, Venuti A, Schiavino D, Fais G
title = Intolerance to aspirin: clinical and immunological studies
journal = Z Immunitatsforsch Immunobiol
volume = 151
issue = 4
pages = 295–304
year = 1976
pmid = 936715
doi =
url =
issn =


The most common symptoms of salicylate sensitivity are:

* Itchy skin, hives or rashes
* Stomach pain/upset stomach
* Asthma and other breathing difficulties
* Angioedema
* Headaches
* Swelling of hands, feet, eyelids, face and/or lips
* Bed wetting or urgency to pass water
* Persistent cough
* Changes in skin color/skin discoloration
* Fatigue
* Sore, itchy, puffy or burning eyes
* Sinusitis/Nasal polyps
* Diarrhea
* Nausea
* Hyperactivity
* Memory loss and poor concentration
* Depression
* Pseudo-anaphylaxis


There is currently no scientific method that will accurately determine if a person is sensitive to salicylates or not. This is because salicylate sensitivity is a dose-related reaction and symptoms only occur when the tolerance level of the individual has been exceeded. One method currently available to determine food intolerance is an elimination diet. Completely eliminating salicylate from one’s diet and environment for 4 to 6 weeks can decrease or possibly eliminate all symptoms involved with salicylate intolerance. After this time period, most salicylate intolerant people can consume or come into contact with occasional small doses of salicylate without symptoms re-occurring. Alternately, those who are extremely sensitive to salicylates should avoid salicylates as much as possible.

See also

*Samter's triad


External links

*“Was it Something You Ate? Food Intolerance: what causes it and how to avoid it” by John Emsley and Peter Fell
* [ Feingold]
* [ Food Can Make You Ill]
* [ Allergy Health]
* [ Fed Up With Food Additives]

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