Symptoms of MSG allergy include headache, mild chest pain, hives, facial flushing, burning or numbness in or around the mouth, facial swelling or pressure and sweating, according to Healthline. More serious MSG allergy symptoms requiring immediate emergency medical care include chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, swelling in the throat and anaphylaxis.
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is the salt form of the nonessential amino acid glutamic acid. It is used generously in Chinese cuisine as a food additive due to its flavor-enhancing properties. Citing anecdotal evidence, many people overstate the negative health risks of MSG. According to Healthine, between 1 to 2 percent of Americans have a negative reaction to MSG, with the majority of these people experiencing very minor symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recognizes MSG as being generally safe, placing it in the same category as salt and pepper.
If a patient is suspected of experiencing an allergic reaction to MSG, a physician may ask if the patient has eaten Chinese food in the past two hours and check for signs that can help confirm a MSG allergy diagnosis such as rapid heart rate, reduced air flow to the lungs and abnormal heart rhythm, states Healthline.
People with serious allergies to MSG should avoid consuming processed foods, and instead eat a diet filled with fresh raw foods such as vegetables, fruits and organic meats, advises Healthline.