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What Are Aspartame Allergy Symptoms?

Headaches are a common symptom of aspartame allergies.
Dermatological effects from aspartame use can include rashes and hives.
Some people report mood swings and memory loss after ingesting aspartame.
An aspartame allergy may cause skin hives.
An aspartame allergy may result in dizziness and vomiting.
Dizziness is a common symptom of an aspartame allergy.
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  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
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The most common aspartame allergy symptoms are headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Some have asserted that these headaches lead to painful migraines that can present with an additional crop of aspartame-related side effects, including decreased vision, eye pain, and increased sensitivity to noise. Supplementary eye-related issues such as blurriness and tunnel vision have also been described.

The majority of published research, leading health organizations, and regulatory bodies around the world have found that aspartame is typically safe for use. A significant percentage of the general public and anti-aspartame activists, however, continue to warn of the product's downsides. In fact, close to 100 unverified allergy symptoms have been associated with aspartame and include effects related to neurological, behavioral and digestive issues.

Gastrointestinal-related upsets tend to be another major complaint by those who have aspartame allergy symptoms. Typical digestive issues that may occur include diarrhea, dehydration, and vomiting that generally occurs with abdominal pain and cramping. For some, allergies triggered by aspartame show up as neurological complications, such as memory loss, lethargy, and mood swings. Others state that their symptoms are dermatological and present with hives; rashes; and swelling of the lips, hands, or other areas of the body.

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Although not an aspartame allergy, phenylketonuria (PKU) should prompt sufferers to take care to avoid any products containing aspartame. Anyone suffering from this inherited disorder is unable to process phenylalanine, an amino acid that aspartame breaks down in the small intestines. Persons with PKU who then consume aspartame could end up with high levels of phenylalanine in the body. For PKU patients, high levels of the substance can do serious damage to the central nervous system, leading to permanent brain damage and mental retardation.

It can be hard to tell if a person is actually allergic to aspartame. There is no way to test if synthetic substances like aspartame could trigger allergic reactions. To complicate matters even further, the artificial sweetener is found in a wide range of food and drink products, including diet sodas, flavored bottled waters, and table top sweeteners.

Multiple individuals who believe they suffer from aspartame side effects report that their symptoms start out mild and steadily become more progressive over the ensuing weeks and months. For many, these symptoms apparently begin to disappear once they stop consuming products that include aspartame. Generally, the recommended method of determining if an adverse reaction to aspartame is responsible for negative effects is to completely remove all sources of the artificial sugar from the diet. A consultation with an allergist or a medical professional might also be the most appropriate course of action.

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anon956514
Post 14

I don't get the headaches or diarrhea, but I do feel like an alien is going to pop out my chest and diaphragm area. I cut out diet drinks a couple weeks ago and had one diet coke and the symptoms came back.

anon944184
Post 13

I've know aspartame has given me headaches for years (drinking just one soda with aspartame will give me a headache). One time, thinking (incorrectly) I could build up a tolerance, I kept drinking sodas with aspartame. After a few days (when I was on a business trip), I broke out with hives on my back. I was miserable for three days until they went away (saw a doctor after the second day, and he gave a cream to use and suggested I stop drinking sodas with aspartame). As far as I know, that is the only thing I'm allergic to. I have never been officially tested, but I list it every time I'm asked about allergies.

anon344926
Post 12

I had a cocktail at a friend's party that contained a flavoured vodka with aspartame. Since alcohol masks the bitter taste of aspartame, I couldn't taste it and didn't know I was ingesting it. Six hours later I was in the ER with the mother of all migraines, vomiting, and covered in hives. 50mg Benadryl via IV nuked it, but this was after six different kinds of anti-nausea drugs that had no effect. I thought maybe I'd had a drink with cranberry, but there was no cranberry anywhere in the house and therefore in none of the drinks, so it was definitely an allergic reaction to aspartame.

They had to hold me for 24 hours for observation. I've had more fun in my life, believe me. So to those who say one can't be allergic to this, believe me, one can, and I am. *sigh* At least it's easy to avoid--no diet soda, no flavoured vodka, and I'm good to go.

anon341417
Post 11

I was hospitalized last September and was actually air lifted to another hospital. They thought I was having a stroke. I had extremely low blood sugar (36). I am not diabetic. I had slurred speech, numbness through my entire top side of my body. The "episodes" lasted for hours over many days.

They ran every test possible (even had a psychologist exam me!) They finally diagnosed me with basilar migrains and aspartame poisoning. I have been using sugar free products for 20 years. I stopped using it (had crystal light in the hospital) while I was still in the hospital (five days total). The day after I stopped any aspartame, the episodes reduced in both frequency, and duration. I couldn't believe it! I have not had any more "episodes" since two weeks after stopping all aspartame. Let everyone know about this! --Lynn E., Huntley, IL

anon336663
Post 10

I had no idea about aspartame until my 2 year old daughter became very very ill over a few months and no doctor we saw could explain it. Someone told me about aspartame, so I researched it and I was horrified.

Since I have stopped buying anything containing aspartame in it, she hasn't been ill at all. She was having violent projectile vomiting accompanied with diarrhea. Now, nothing. I've told everyone I know about it, but nobody listens!

anon327855
Post 9

My sister and I are both allergic to "aspartame" and artificial sweeteners. The reaction is a migraine typically, but it has been over 25 years since I consumed any that I don't recall other symptoms.

The withdrawal was very similar to someone addicted to a drug. It was terrible. I wish my boyfriend (a diabetic) would stop consuming the artificial sweeteners (he gets headaches and diarrhea) but being convinced that he is diabetic he can "only" have this crap is just marketing, and he consumes more.

My mother used to make jello with aspartame in it, and she said that there was no way I could taste it. Yes I could. It's distinctive. I wish they would stop making artificial poisons and convincing mass populations that it's a great alternative. Wake up, people. It's poison.

orangey03
Post 8

I had no idea that aspartame could cause migraines! That is probably why my friend keeps getting these headaches.

He drinks diet soda every day, and almost every day, he gets a debilitating migraine. I have to tell him to stop!

feasting
Post 7

@kylee07drg – Yes, they are. I once ate a bunch of pieces of sugar-free hard candy at work because I was bored, and I got a bad case of diarrhea.

That time, sorbitol was to blame. It was the sweetener in the candy, and to me, it tasted a lot better than aspartame.

However, I have had gastrointestinal issues from eating too much aspartame, too. Natural sugar is just so much better for you, even if it does contain more calories!

kylee07drg
Post 6

Aspartame is in foods that are made for diabetics. I am not diabetic, but I once tried to eat some of these foods to cut down on the amount of sugar in my diet.

I tried sugar-free brownies and cookies. They tasted awful! I don't know how anyone gets used to this flavor.

Also, they made me have diarrhea. Artificial sweeteners are notorious for that, aren't they?

JackWhack
Post 5

It's hard to avoid aspartame entirely. I have noticed that while I react to larger amounts of it, tiny amounts don't really do anything to me.

I had been drinking diet soda for about a year, and I averaged one or two cans a day. I had become so fatigued and depressed, but I didn't know what was wrong.

A friend told me that the aspartame in my diet soda was to blame. I switched back to regular soda, and I started feeling so much better.

Aspartame in gum doesn't bother me, because it is just a small amount, and I don't chew it for very long. I just chew it long enough to get food out of my teeth.

lluviaporos
Post 4
@irontoenail - Most doctors seem to think there's no such thing as an MSG allergy as well and one of my roommates was always able to tell when it was in food because he'd get a migraine. He'd get one if there was MSG regardless of whether he knew it was there or not.

I agree that there should be more testing. It says on the article that it's difficult to test for symptoms but they account for the placebo effect when testing any other kind of disease or cure, so why not use those same protocols for these tests? Personally, I think there's no funding for that kind of test, because allergy sufferers are few and far between and those who make money from the aspartame chemical would rather not make a fuss.

irontoenail
Post 3
@umbra21 - The problem is that there are a lot of people who have heard bad things about aspartame and think that they are allergic to it, so they have symptoms as though they were allergic to it, even though they aren't. It's very difficult for doctors to sort through those kinds of symptoms. You'd have to make the test up so that the person had no possible way of suspecting if they were eating aspartame or not.

I'm not saying that it's not possible that some people have an allergy. But it's difficult to sort through who does and who simply thinks they do. The placebo effect is a powerful thing.

umbra21
Post 2

@anon286766 - I'm sorry that you have that kind of reaction to something that is found in so many foods these days. It can be tough to have something like that which hasn't been fully accepted and documented by the medical community.

I actually think it's a good idea for someone with your symptoms to try getting hold of people in the medical community who can document your symptoms so that they can go on record.

And at least it's a synthetic compound that you're allergic to, rather than something wholesome. Homemade foods taste better than aspertame filled foods anyway.

anon286766
Post 1

I immediately black out and have cold sweats when I have aspartame. This has been a problem for me since the free, rainbow colored gum balls were sent in the mail advertising Nutrasweet. I can smell the "poison", if someone is near me with aspartame gum in their mouth. If I smell diet soda, I get a carsick feeling and pressure between my eyes. Aspartame is in almost all gum, even if it's not a "less sugar" brand. It's now in Hubba Bubba, Juicy Fruit and Bubble Gum Tape. It's also in chewable kids medicines. Read the labels. Most doctors say there is no such thing as an aspartame allergy, but I always write it on medical forms.I hope this can help someone. --Lori K., Long Island NY

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