The links on this site may be affiliate links which means we may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to soy? How long does an allergic reaction to soy last? Is this an allergic reaction or an intolerance?
There are so many questions and confusion about food allergy reactions. Lots of people just think of anaphylactic reactions to peanuts or shellfish. They don’t even realize what an allergic reaction really is, how prevalent food allergies/sensitivities are, or what to watch out for.
I’m part of some different groups on Facebook, and its really interesting to see the different questions and answers that pop up. People have so many different questions and experiences.
Everyone is different! We all know this, but it’s especially important to note with allergic reactions. Everyone reacts differently to different allergens and sometimes even reacts differently each time their exposed!
Lets talk for a minute about allergic reactions to soy vs food intolerances or sensitivities.
Allergic Reaction Defined
The American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology defines an allergic reaction as:
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to a harmless substance known as an allergen.
The immune system protects the body from infections, viruses and diseases. In some people, substances such as pollen, certain foods, latex, mold, pet dander, dust mites or insect stings are allergens that trigger the production of antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). These antibodies travel to cells that release chemicals, causing symptoms most often in the nose, lungs, throat, sinuses, ears, lining of the stomach or on the skin.
The first time a person with an allergy is exposed to the allergen, it may not cause a reaction. However, the person is then sensitized to the allergen can and even minor future exposures to this allergen produce an allergic reaction.
The key part here is the IgE response. The body producing antibodies in response to an allergen trigger which thereby causes symptoms.
Medical News Today has a great definition of food intolerance or sensitivity:
Food intolerance, also known as non-IgE mediated food hypersensitivity or non-allergic food hypersensitivity, refers to difficulty in digesting certain foods. It is important to note that food intolerance is different from food allergy.
Food allergies trigger the immune system, while food intolerance does not. Some people suffer digestive problems after eating certain foods, even though their immune system has not reacted – there is no histamine response.
Allergy vs Intolerance bottomline
A true allergy triggers an immune response, but an intolerance does not.
Okay, so what does this mean for us? Not a whole lot, I’m afraid.
Either way, we are going to feel crappy when exposed to our trigger. For a true allergy, exposure to a food allergen could result in a severe reaction at any time, with even a small exposure. By severe reaction, I mean Anaphylactic reaction. I think all food allergy suffers, and their loved ones, fear a true Anaphylactic reaction. Luckily, I have not had an anaphylactic reaction to any of my allergies, but I do carry an Epi-pen with me at all times. Unfortunately, since my reactions trigger oral symptoms and asthma, the likelihood of a true anaphylactic reaction is higher for me.
A food intolerance, also carries its own fun and games, but isn’t likely to result in Anaphylaxis. But, that’s not to say a food intolerance is a walk in the park either. 🙁
For more information check out this post, “How to Research Allergens”.
Symptoms can vary wildly for each person and for each allergy. For this post, let’s focus on allergic reactions to soy.
Some of the most common symptoms of soy allergies or intolerances according to this article by the Mayo Clinic are:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Hives; itching; or itchy, scaly skin (eczema)
- Swelling of lips, face, tongue and throat, or other body parts
- Wheezing, runny nose or breathing difficulty
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting
- Skin redness (flushing)
A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is rare with a soy allergy. It’s more likely to occur in people who also have asthma or who are allergic to other foods besides soy, such as peanuts.
Anaphylaxis causes more-extreme signs and symptoms including:
- Difficulty breathing, caused by throat swelling
- Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
My allergic reactions to soy
As I mentioned above, everyone’s symptoms can be a bit different and can vary in severity. For the most part, my reactions are:
- Tingling/Itchy mouth, tongue, throat
- Weird cough
- Tightness in the chest
- Wheezing or asthma related symptoms
- Itchy ears (down in the ear canal where you can’t itch)
- Nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing like crazy
- Itchy skin (without rash-just itch all over for an hour or two. Especially neck and face)
- Headaches and/or migraines
- Itchy, watery, blurry, eyes
- Feeling like I can’t yawn~its like I try to yawn and get to the end and can’t quite finish. Which then increases anxiety, makes me want to yawn more. This becomes a viscous cycle if I don’t mentally master it. I use breathing techniques to keep this one under control when it kicks in.
- Extreme fatigue
- Brain Fog
- Extremely emotional – Like CRAZY girl emotional!
Duration of Allergic Reactions to soy
When I first was diagnosed with a soy allergy, I thought reactions only lasted for about a day, maybe two for the residual symptoms to subside. What I have now realized, after tracking both my diet, triggers, and different symptoms, is that my reactions actually last at least 3-5 days. A reaction to soy is much more severe (and longer lasting) than one of my many food intolerances.
I have also found that while stress doesn’t “cause” a reaction, if I am stressed and around a trigger, I am much more apt to react and to react much more severely than when I am not stressed. The emotional reactions (anxiety, moodiness, crazy mood swings) and brain fog are also more pronounced if I am already in a heightened stress state.
Many other suffers of allergic reactions to soy report similar duration. Some folks report reactions lasting as long as two weeks!
Common Symptoms of allergic reactions to soy as reported by other soy allergy sufferers:
As I mentioned before, I’m on some Facebook groups where we talk about our allergies. One of the really cool things about these groups is getting to hear other peoples experiences, what’s worked (and not) for them, stuff to watch out for, etc. Note, the following informational and anecdotal. I am just sharing what I have experienced myself or other folks have reported about their allergic reactions to soy.
The following symptoms are all reported with regularity:
- Digestive issues-nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea
- Emotional issues
- Anxiety or panicky feelings
- Irritability or “Soy Rage”-many parents with children allergic report “soy rage”. The gist is that a normally mild mannered, sweet child, becomes a total monster when exposed to soy.
- Impending sense of Doom
- Brain fog, forgetfulness
- Learning difficulties, delayed speech and behavioral issues in children
- Sore joints
- Skin Issues- Eczema, dermatitis, hives, pimples, redness/flushing, swelling, burning and/or itching all over without rash. Feel like something crawling over skin. Also some reports of blistering around the face/mouth in children with soy allergy. Excessive dryness.
- Mouth reactions-swelling, tingling, itching mouth, tongue, lips, or throat, raspy voice, lump in throat
- Sinus issues-post nasal drip, runny nose, sneezing, stuffiness, pressure, pain
- Dark circles around/under the eyes
- Eyes-itchy, swollen, tender, watery, bleary
- Hot flashes (non-menopausal)
- Breathing issues-shortness of breath, Asthma exacerbation, overwhelming urge to yawn but can’t “complete” yawn
- Ears-itchy, itch down in the ear canal, clogged feeling
There are many ways to be exposed that can trigger an allergic reaction to soy.
Soy can be ingested, inhaled, or can be absorbed transdermally. A lot of folks only think of food or eating Tofu, Edamame, or Soy Sauce. Unfortunately, SOY IS EVERYWHERE in the United States! Most folks have no idea that they are consuming soy on a daily basis. For more info, check out this post on other names for soy and common hiding places.
Obviously, the first place to start when removing soy from your life is in your diet, but secondary exposure from inhaling soy (air fresheners, candles, etc) can be problematic as well. I did some research into commercially available air fresheners and among all the other toxic ingredients the majority of the major manufacturers (including natural/crunchy companies) all contained some form of soy!!!
You’ve probably heard that your skin is your biggest organ. Our skin has the amazing ability to absorb substances directly through our skin as well as expel or detox other nasties. As awesome as this is, that means we need to be very careful with what we use on our skin, including household cleaners, laundry detergent, etc. Most conventional cleaning products (including healthier companies) contain soy. 🙁
Are you having an Allergic Reaction to soy?
As you can see, there are a lot of symptoms that can be attributed to a soy allergy or other food allergies. If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, I strongly suggest you talk to your medical professional. An experienced Naturopath or Functional Medicine Doctor can work with you to identify your triggers and help you on the road to recovery.
Do you have a soy allergy and suffer from the same symptoms? Do you experience different symptoms from allergic reactions to soy?
I hope this post has been helpful. I love to hear other peoples experiences. Please share your story in the comments below.