Could You Be Allergic to Sugar?

Dr. James |

I received this question about the possibility of being allergic to sugar. Although rare, it’s possible and and depending on the severity of your symptoms you should see an allergist / immunologist to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Depending on how severe your response is to sugar, you may have to avoid or limit foods that contain it. If you’re lactose intolerant, you’ll need to cut back on dairy or avoid it.

If you have a severe sugar allergy, carry an auto-injector wherever you go. This device delivers a dose of the hormone epinephrine to stop the reaction. The shot should relieve symptoms like shortness of breath and swelling of the face.

Foods to avoid

If you’re allergic to sugar, you’ll need to avoid anything that contains it, including:

  • soft drinks and fruit juices
  • syrup, jams, and jellies
  • desserts, such as cookies, candy, ice cream, cake, and candy bars
  • cereals, granola bars, crackers, and bread
  • peanut butter

Other sweeteners that contain sugar will be off-limits, too. You’ll want to avoid:

  • honey
  • cane juice
  • agave
  • molasses

If you’re lactose intolerant, stay away from these dairy foods:

  • milk and cream
  • butter
  • cheese
  • ice cream, sherbet
  • pudding
  • cream soups and sauces
  • yogurt

Also watch for hidden sources of sugar. Sometimes it’s added to foods you’d never expect, like:

  • salad dressing
  • barbecue sauce
  • pasta sauce
  • ketchup
  • some medicines

Food substitutes

If you need to cut back on or avoid sugar, try one of these sugar substitutes to sweeten your foods:

  • aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet)
  • saccharin (Sweet‘N Low)
  • sucralose (Splenda)
  • stevia

You can still enjoy dairy if you have lactose intolerance. Just switch to lactose-free milk, ice cream, and other dairy products. You can also buy lactase tablets over the counter. These tablets contain the lactase enzyme to help your body digest lactose.


A sugar allergy is rare. But you may have an intolerance. If you have lactose intolerance, your symptoms may get worse as you get older.

You can maintain food allergies and intolerances by monitoring your diet. Let people know that you can’t eat sugar.

There are many sugar substitutes you can try. Experiment until you find options that fit your tastes.

To

FEEDBACK:Medically reviewed by Suzanne Falck, MDon November 10, 2016 — Written by Stephanie Watson

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