Chinese restaurant syndrome, as the name suggests, occurs after eating Chinese food.
Ever thought there could be a syndrome called Chinese restaurant syndrome? Some people believe that such a syndrome actually exists. But before you decide to give up Chinese food, it would be a good idea to understand the details of the same.
The Chinese restaurant syndrome was first described in 1968 by H. H. Schaumberg and R. Byck. Initial experiments by H. H. Schaumberg found that some people are more susceptible to Chinese restaurant syndrome than others. According to him, addition of monosodium glutamate (MSG) to the food brought about these effects; the same reaction was not observed in when Chinese food without MSG was consumed by the same individuals. Symptoms were more when the food with MSG was consumed on an empty stomach.Monosodium glutamate, marketed as Ajinomoto in some countries, is an important ingredient of Chinese food.
It is possible that this ingredient is responsible for the Chinese restaurant syndrome, though further studies failed to definitely establish the same. Some people may be more sensitive to this ingredient, thus resulting symptoms of Chinese restaurant syndrome. The high sodium content in Chinese food may also be responsible for some of the symptoms, according to researchers.
MSG is not only an ingredient of Chinese foods available in restaurants; it is also used in home-made Chinese foods. It is an ingredient of soy sauce. Besides, it is also a part of packed foods, canned soups, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. Though considered safe in adults by the FDA, its use should be avoided in very small children.Symptoms of Chinese restaurant syndrome are similar to those seen in other allergic reactions and include flushing, chest pain, headache, numbness or burning in and around the mouth, facial pressure or swelling, and sweating
. Diagnosis is based on the clinical features and history of recent intake of Chinese food.
Most symptoms resolve without any treatment. Antihistamines or other anti-allergy medications may be given in some cases. Some dangerous symptoms like irregular heart rate or a difficulty with breathing require emergency treatment.