Citric acid intolerance is sometimes confused with citrus allergy, though the two widely differ. Persons who suffer from citrus allergy react to compounds and proteins that are specific to citrus; those who suffer from citric acid intolerance respond only to citric acid, an organic acid found in household products, fruits and some vegetables. Citric acid is used as a preservative in most consumer goods including soft drinks and beer.

Though hard to detect, citric acid intolerance can be diagnosed easily by a specialist, though you can be able to diagnose it by checking for any symptoms that occur immediately you ingest the chemical.

Itchy Mouth

If you instantly develop a tingly sensation on your mouth after ingesting citric acid, followed by itchiness that sometimes affects all parts of the mouth, then you may have citric acid intolerance. The itchy sensation is triggered when histamines trigger an inflammatory response once it classifies citric acid as a threat and foreign object. This is part of the normal immune system. Since the mouth is the first part that citric acid interacts with the body, the itchiness will start there before spreading to the other parts of the eye, the face and skin after the citric acid enters the bloodstream.

Cramps and Stomach Pains

Though there are many symptoms of citric acid intolerance with regard to the digestive system, the most common are nausea, cramps and stomach pains. Others include diarrhea and vomiting. Most of the time, the stomach pains and cramps can start several hours after ingesting foods that contain citric acid, leading many people to incorrectly blame the wrong foods for the predicament.

Swelling and Inflammation

Another symptom of citric acid intolerance is mass inflammation and swelling all over the body. Oftentimes, it isn’t easy to see the swelling on a naked eye as it can occur internally. If you detect any abnormal bumps or lumps inside your mouth, this may be a tell-tale symptom of the intolerance. The swellings can also be visible especially on the facial region, such as swollen lips and eyelids. Massive inflammation is very uncomfortable and can lead to serious breathing problems.

Neurological Symptoms

Citric acid intolerance can also affect your nervous system. This means that if you notice a quick alteration of your mood after ingesting certain foods, or feels lightheaded, anxious, depressed or unable to control your emotions, then you may be suffering from citric acid intolerance. In individuals with citric acid allergies, this can result in anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.


Hives can also result from citric acid intolerance. This involves inflammation of the skin after the citric acid enters the bloodstream. The hives can occur in patches or be spread across the entire body. Oftentimes, if you suffer from hives, you will notice that your skin starts feeling hot due to the inflammation. Hives can appear as elevated bumps, itchy and flaky skin or as painful rashes.

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