I fielded a question the other day pertaining to artificial dyes, red dye particularly and why they were so dangerous. I knew it was bad but after doing some further research I was quite shocked at what I found out, lets take a closer look!
Artificial dyes can be found in more than just food products that you might expect. It is easy to see brightly colored candies and drinks and know instantly that they contain artificial dyes. You need to be extremely careful and read the ingredient labels which reveals artificial dyes in many potentially surprising products.
The three most widely used culprits—Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40—contain compounds, including benzidine and 4-aminobiphenyl, that research shows has linked with Cancer! Why is this though? Lets look deeper into these dyes and check on how they are derived.
Where Does Red Dye 40 Come From:
Contrary to popular belief, red dye is not only found in food. The truth is, red dye allergy can come from just about anything. Food, personal care, make up, and even the toothpaste you’re using. Artificial dyes are derived mostly from Pertroleum, or red dye is extracted from a beetle and then used for various purposes. This dye has NO benefits to the body whatsoever, but lets take a good look at what this is linked to once assimilated (absorbed ) into the human body and blood stream.
Just like other types of allergies, common skin symptoms can be attributed to red dye allergy. Itchiness, redness and slight swelling of the skin are some of these symptoms. Appearance of hives, rashes and thick bumps which contain fluid are also dermal signs of red dye allergy. Angioedema is a more severe skin reaction caused by red dye allergy. It’s characterized by the swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. This might look like raised welt’s on the skin’s surface. Angioedema can also be seen in the tongue, eyelids and the area surrounding the face. Sounds fun, right? Lets examine further.
Anyone who is allergic to a particular kind of food will have some type of gastrointestinal problem. In this case, red dye can cause diarrhea, bloating or give you a gassy feeling. It will usually start as a simple stomach ache. Then it can progress to a more serious digestive problem, such as vomiting and persistent excretions. Once the food with red dye has been excreted, the gastrointestinal stress will also cease. This is why most people are wheezing, coughing or appear to have a general whistling in the chest.
Flu & Respiratory Problems:
Red dye allergy can cause certain parts of the respiratory system to swell. It’s hard to diagnose people with red dye allergy, because most of the symptoms exhibited are too common. The best example of which is fever and flu. Itchiness of the throat, eyes and nose, as well as constant sneezing are also caused by red dye allergy. While these symptoms can easily be treated with antibiotics and antihistamines, the allergy can go undetected for years.
Red dye allergy, if left untreated, can end up becoming severe. Anaphylactic shock is the worst stage of this allergy. Its early signs are respiratory symptoms paired with swelling of the entire body. For those of you who have ever suffered from this know, the inflammation can make it hard for someone to swallow and breathe and without proper treatment of adrenaline or epinephrine, death can occur.
Other Symptoms Of Red Dye Allergy:
- Faster pulse
- Significant drop in blood pressure
- Blocked airways
- Joint pains
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of sleep
- Poor concentration
- Loss of consciousness
- ADHD (more common among children)
Where Can Dye Be Found:
- Personal Care & Skin Care
- Eye shadow
- Cough Syrup
- Tattoo Ink ~ Red in particular can cause red dye allergy. This can lead to redness, swelling as well as itching of the skin.
Red dye allergy cannot be cured completely. For that reason, prevention is still better than cure. Avoiding food and cosmetics that contain carmine or Red dye 40 will save you from the stress and symptoms red dye allergy can cause.
Antihistamines and other anti-allergy medicines work on treating the symptoms of red dye allergy. For the gastrointestinal problems, it doesn’t really need any treatment. The digestive problems will stop once food is excreted. Dermal problems can be treated using ointments. Those with anaphylactic shock will be given epinephrine or adrenaline as mentioned earlier.
Alternative medicine includes herbal treatment, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. Be cautious when buying this type of medicine though as most most of them aren’t proven to be effective.
How To Avoid Dyes:
Consider the names of red dye mentioned above. Carefully read the labels of food, cosmetics, skin care as well as personal care products you want to buy. Refer to the sources mentioned previously so you can be guided.
If you’re in a drug store, ask the pharmacist if the medicine you’re about to buy contains red dye so you can avoid those products.
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Thanks for Reading!