Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. Reactions to MSG have been called the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” referring to that fact that MSG is commonly found in Asian-style foods. Most people who are affected will experience symptoms shortly after eating foods containing MSG.
MSG is a substance that causes a reaction in nerve cells. The use of this stimulant affects the mouth and the brain. Most people respond to MSG with a stimulation of hunger, taste, and smell, which is why it is used. The down side to this stimulation is that it can also cause an allergic response because of the over stimulation of the nerve cells. Not only does it enhance flavors, but it can cause symptoms that can even be life threatening.
Symptoms of MSG Allergy
- Facial pressure or tightness
- Generalised weakness
- Numbness, tingling or burning in the face, neck and other areas
- Rapid, fluttering heartbeats (heart palpitations)
- Chest pain
Treatment of MSG Allergy
Most allergic reactions to MSG are mild and will go away on their own. A person experiencing shortness of breath, swelling of the lips or throat, heart palpitations, or chest pain should proceed to the nearest emergency room immediately.