Sian Baker

Medically reviewed by Sian Baker, Dip ION mBANT mCNHC
on February 15, 2021. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Check My Body Health blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Signs & Symptoms of a Rice Intolerance or Allergy

Rice can cause uncomfortable or even dangerous reactions for some people. This article helps you understand the difference between a true rice allergy, which involves the immune system, and a rice intolerance, which primarily causes digestive problems. Both conditions share some symptoms, so we’ll explore the signs to watch for and what steps to take if you suspect you may have a rice allergy or intolerance.

What are the symptoms of a rice allergy?

As rice is a member of the grass family, many symptoms of a rice allergy are similar to the effects of hay fever, including coughing, sneezing, wheezing and shortness of breath. However, depending on the severity of your allergy, there can be a range of symptoms:

  • Nausea, sickness or diarrhoea
  • Hives, a rash or itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Breathing difficulties or tightening of the throat
  • Pale or discoloured skin
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

In some cases you may also experience anaphylaxis, however this is rare. If you experience any or a combination of these symptoms after eating rice you may have a rice allergy. You don’t need to eat rice to experience symptoms of an allergy, for example, if you’re close to a rice field or you’re in a room where someone is cooking rice.

What Happens If I’m Allergic to Rice?

Rice allergies can be sneaky! Because it’s in the same family as grasses, you might first think you’re just dealing with seasonal allergies. Here’s what to watch for:

  • Like hay fever: Coughing, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes
  • Stomach problems: Nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhoea
  • Skin issues: Hives, rashes, general itchiness
  • Serious Stuff (rare): Trouble breathing, swollen throat, dizziness

Important: If you ever have trouble breathing after eating rice, get medical help right away!

Could this happen to me? Dr. Sian Baker says, “While less common than some other food allergies, rice allergies are on the rise. You can become allergic at any age.”

What is food intolerance?

A food intolerance develops when your body struggles to digest a particular food. Unlike an allergic reaction, an intolerance and the symptoms you experience aren’t caused by your body’s immune system – they actually come from the difficulty your body has because it can’t metabolise or process certain food compounds. Thankfully, intolerances are usually less severe than an allergic reaction, however, they can still cause a great deal of discomfort, pain, anxiety and stress.

How common is a rice intolerance?

In East Asian countries, rice intolerances can be relatively common because rice plays such a major role in many people’s diets. But, in the UK, Europe and the US, rice intolerances are far less common – but, a sudden food intolerance can happen at any point in your life.

While rice intolerance is more prevalent in countries where rice is a major part of the diet, it’s important to understand that it can develop in anyone regardless of location or typical diet.

How do you test for a rice allergy or intolerance?

If you suspect you have a rice allergy or intolerance, there are several things you can do to find out:

  • Consult your doctor, who can advise you on the relevant steps after considering your medical history, diet and lifestyle.
  • Create a food diary to keep a record of the food you eat and whether or not you experience any allergy or intolerance symptoms after eating rice.
  • Attempt an elimination diet by removing rice and rice products from your diet for several weeks to see if the symptoms reoccur.
  • Take a food intolerance test, which is the fastest and most accurate way to discover whether you have an allergy or intolerance to rice as well as hundreds of other foods.
Click to buy our best food intolerance test

What should you do if you think you have a rice allergy or intolerance?

If you believe you have a rice intolerance or allergy and frequently experience symptoms after eating dishes that contain rice, you should try to eliminate it from your diet until you can get a reliable diagnosis. This is especially true if you suspect you have an allergy, as the symptoms may worsen over time.

It’s important not to self-diagnose whether you have an allergy or intolerance, as many of the symptoms are similar. Speak to a health professional or take one of our food intolerance test for reliable and accurate confirmation.

What foods should you avoid if you have a rice allergy or intolerance?

If you suspect you have a rice allergy or intolerance, or you’ve recently had a confirmation that you do, you should pay close attention to what you eat so you avoid accidentally eating something that contains rice. While rice isn’t as widely used as wheat or eggs, there are certain foods you should avoid:

  • Rice flour
  • Rice noodles
  • Rice cakes
  • Rice milk
  • Rice pudding
  • Certain cereals
  • Certain granola bars
  • Certain chocolates and sweets
  • Sushi
  • Sake
  • Risotto
  • Biryani
  • Paella

Rice and its derivatives can be hidden in various products, making careful label reading essential for those with rice allergies or intolerances. Be mindful of:

  • Processed Foods: Rice flour, starches, or syrups may be used as thickeners or fillers.
  • Sauces and Condiments: Some Asian cuisines may use rice-based ingredients.
  • Desserts & Sweets: Rice flour may be present in unexpected places.
  • Non-Food Items: Certain cosmetics, or even craft materials, can contain rice.

10 alternatives to rice

  1. Riced cauliflower
  2. Riced broccoli
  3. Riced potato and sweet potato
  4. Couscous
  5. Quinoa
  6. Barley
  7. Orzo
  8. Farro
  9. Bulgur wheat
  10. Chopped cabbage

How to test if you have a rice allergy or intolerance

The symptoms of a rice intolerance or allergy are always unpleasant. Plus, the effects can get worse over time, so it’s best to find out for sure which foods you need to avoid.

Our test are here to help you discover more about your body’s intolerances and take control of your health in just five working days.

Click to buy our best food intolerance test


1. Vitamin D. NIH, Office of Dietary Supplements. URL. Accessed February 15, 2021.

2. Nair R, Maseeh A. Vitamin D: The “sunshine” vitamin. J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2012;3(2):118-126.

3. Vitamin D2 vs. D3: Which Should I Take for Bone Health?. Cleveland Clinic. URL. Accessed February 15, 2021.

4. Jetty V, Glueck CJ, Wang P, et al. Safety of 50,000-100,000 Units of Vitamin D3/Week in Vitamin D-Deficient, Hypercholesterolemic Patients with Reversible Statin Intolerance. N Am J Med Sci. 2016;8(3):156-162.

5. On call: Vitamin D2 or D3? Harvard Medical School. URL. Accessed February 15, 2021

Share This