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Sometimes my upper lip swells after eating. Should I be worried?

By: Alice Lesch Kelly

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Swollen lips can be one of many signs of an allergic reaction to a food you ate, such as milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. “When you eat a food you are allergic to, your body sees the food as an invader,” says Michael Pistiner, a pediatric allergist and clinical instructor at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. Your body responds to the invader by activating your immune system, which releases chemicals such as histamine into the blood. Inflammation occurs, and reactions such as swollen lips develop.

Lip swelling can also occur in people who have allergies to certain pollens in the environment or who eat some kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, including cherries, apples, plums, peaches and apricots.

In some cases, lip swelling is a major health emergency and can occur during a serious anaphylactic reaction that may require emergency medical care. Other food allergy symptoms include hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth and throat, vomiting, cramping, and a loss of consciousness. Symptoms typically occur within several minutes to two hours after eating. For more information on food allergies, visit The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network’s website, FoodAllergy.org

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/stevesim
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