Corn Allergy: What Are the Symptoms?

Written by Connie K. Ho | Published on December 18, 2013
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on December 18, 2013

Learn which foods to avoid if you experience an allergic reaction to corn.

Food Allergy

An allergy to corn occurs when your immune system mistakes corn or a corn product for something that’s harmful. In response, it releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E to neutralize the allergen. The next time you were to eat corn, your body would identify it and signal the immune system to release histamine and other chemicals. Allergy symptoms are caused by this reaction. 

However, this allergy is extremely rare. It often occurs because of cross-contamination with another allergen, such as soy. Trace amounts of soy can trigger a reaction in people who are very sensitive to it. 

Read through this article to learn how to detect a corn allergy.

Uncomfortable Signs

Allergic reactions to a particular food like corn can vary based on the individual. For some people, the reaction may be uncomfortable. For others, the reaction may be more severe and possibly life threatening.

Symptoms may appear between minutes or hours and can include:

  • tingling or itchiness in the mouth
  • hives or eczema
  • swelling of lips, tongue, throat, face, or other parts of the body
  • difficulty breathing with wheezing or nasal congestion
  • dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
  • digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea

Severe Allergic Reaction

A more severe allergic reaction to corn can result in anaphylaxis, which can be a life-threatening condition. Symptoms include:

  • loss of consciousness
  • a rapid and irregular pulse
  • shock
  • difficulty breathing due to swelling of the throat and air passages

It’s important to seek medical help immediately if you’re allergic to corn and you experience any of these signs.

Consult Your Doctor

Make an appointment with your doctor if you suffer any of these symptoms when eating corn or corn products. They’ll take a history of your symptoms, family health, and food allergies to determine if your allergic reaction is caused by corn or something else.

Limiting Exposure

Avoiding corn can be difficult because many food products contain corn or some form of corn. For some people, even touching the allergen can cause a reaction. 

One way to prevent an allergic reaction is to bring your own food when traveling.  When eating out, ask your server to check with the chef about what ingredients are used in dishes and the food prep process.

Hidden Dangers

If you find that you have an allergic reaction to corn, sometimes merely avoiding the food itself isn’t enough. Corn products may be hidden in food or drinks as sweeteners or cornstarch. Be sure to carefully read all food labels.

Corn products are usually found in the following items, among other products:

  • baked goods
  • beverages or sodas
  • candies
  • canned fruits
  • cereals
  • cookies
  • flavored milk
  • jams and jellies
  • luncheon meats
  • snack foods
  • syrups

Reading Labels in Ingredients

Food products generally indicate when corn is included in the ingredients. Steer clear of anything with the words corn (such as corn flour or corn syrup), hominy, masa, or maize listed.

Other ingredients that may indicate the presence of corn include:

  • caramel
  • dextrose
  • dextrin
  • fructose
  • malt syrup
  • modified food starch and vinegar


There is no way to cure allergies to a food product like corn, but there are ways to reduce the risks of allergic reactions.

If you have already suffered a severe allergic reaction to corn in the past, wear a medical bracelet or necklace. This will help others know that you have an allergy to corn. The medical bracelet or necklace is helpful in situations where you have a strong allergic reaction and cannot communicate to others about your condition. 

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