Boy saying no to bread

Sesame Allergy Symptoms and Treatment

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A sesame allergy is an allergic response to the proteins present in the edible seeds of  sesame plants. Sesame allergies affect about 1.1 million children and adults in the U.S. and are the ninth most common food allergy.  Studies suggest that cases of sesame allergies have increased significantly over the last two decades.

As of January 2023, food manufactures are required to label packaged food items that contain sesame.

Because sesame allergy reactions can be severe and, in some cases, life-threatening, it is important to diagnose and treat a suspected sesame allergy as soon as possible. The following sections provide an overview of common sesame allergy reactions, sesame allergy causes, and sesame allergy treatment.

Sesame Allergy Symptoms

Sesame allergy reactions may result in a variety of skin, respiratory, digestive, and cardiovascular manifestations. These manifestations may include:

  • Hives
  • Mouth or throat becoming itchy
  • Swelling of the tongue or lips
  • Runny nose
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath
various tree nuts

Sesame allergies can lead to anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock). Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of an anaphylaxis include:

  • Shortness of breath (and/or wheezing)
  • Constriction of the throat
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Confusion
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Pale and floppy (young children)

Sesame Allergy Causes

Sesame allergies are primarily caused by an abnormal immune response to proteins found in sesame seeds and food containing sesame seeds. When an individual with a predisposition to sesame allergies comes into contact with sesame proteins, their immune system mistakenly identifies these proteins as harmful invaders and triggers an sesame allergy reaction.

Genetics play a role in the development of sesame allergies as individuals with a family history of allergies are more prone to developing this condition.

tree nut causes

Cross-contamination of foods can also expose individuals to sesame allergens unknowingly, underscoring the importance of allergen awareness and careful food preparation for those with sesame allergies.

Sesame Allergy Testing

Sesame allergy testing plays an important role in diagnosing and managing allergies to sesame, which can be life-threatening for some individuals.

Sesame allergy testing may include:

Skin Prick Test

A test in which the skin is lightly pricked with a tiny amount of tree nut allergens, followed by monitoring for a reaction.

Blood Test

Measures the levels of IgE antibodies developed by the immune system, providing valuable information about the severity of the allergy.

Component Test

A blood test that evaluates a patient’s ability to tolerate specific components of allergens. A tree nut allergy component test is essential in differentiating between a cross reaction to pollen or a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.

Oral Food Challenge

A gradual process in which a patient consumes a small amount of a suspected allergen over a period of three to four hours. As serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening, it should only be conducted under the guidance of a qualified clinician.

FAI’s Advanced Food Allergy Testing

Our Foundation Labs (CLIA Certified) specializes in component testing of 130+ different allergens, including allergen components that are not available at national laboratories and hundreds of different biomarkers.

Foods to Avoid to Prevent
Sesame Allergy Reactions

It is important to avoid sesame and foods containing sesame in order to prevent sesame allergy reactions. Please note that sesame may be listed by many uncommon names on ingredient lists.

  • Benne, benne seed, benniseed
  • Gingelly, gingelly oil
  • Gomasio (sesame salt)
  • Halvah
  • Sesame flour
  • Sesame oil*
  • Sesame paste
  • Sesame salt
  • Sesame seed
  • Sesamol
  • Sesamum indicum
  • Sesemolina
  • Sim sim
  • Tahini, Tahina, Tehina
  • Til

Other Places Sesame can be Found

Sesame is not always present in these foods, but it is important to read food labels and ask questions about ingredients before eating something that you have not prepared.

  • Asian cuisine
  • Baba ghanoush
  • Baked goods
  • Bread crumbs
  • Cereals
  • Chips
  • Crackers
  • Dressings
  • Falafel
  • Hummus
  • Flavored rice or noodles
  • Goma-dofu (Japanese dessert)
  • Gravy
  • Herbs and herbal drinks
  • Margarine
  • Marinades
  • Pasteli (Greek dessert)
  • Processed meats and sausages
  • Protein and energy bars
  • Sauces
  • Snack foods
  • Soups
  • Sushi
  • Tempeh
  • Turkish cake
  • Vegetarian burgers

Sesame may be Found in Non-food Items

  • Body oils
  • Hair care products
  • Lotions and creams
  • Medications
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Perfumes
  • Pet foods
  • Soaps

Sesame Allergy Treatment

For those with sesame allergies, the only proven food allergy treatment that makes it possible to achieve remission is the Food Allergy Institute’s Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP).

TIP™ builds tolerance to the unique proteins each individual is allergic to, all before introducing their most anaphylactic allergen(s).

This ensures patient safety, and over time alters their immune system to not react to any of their allergens. Once an individual has reached remission, they can eat like anyone without a food allergy for the rest of their life.

OIT and similar food allergy treatments aim to desensitize patients to protect them from “accidental exposure.” Through TIP™, patients can eat as freely as a non-allergic person would.

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Allergens Treated

The Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP) successfully treats ALL severe food allergies, including the TOP 9 major allergens and many more!

  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish
  • Lentil
  • Mustard
  • Sesame
  • And more
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*Not a guarantee of coverage. Please contact your insurance company directly to determine if the Food Allergy Institute is within your network and considered a participating provider under your plan.