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Are COPD Inhalers Containing Soy Lecithin Safe to Use If I Am Allergic to Soy?

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Updated June 30, 2010

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Question: Are COPD Inhalers Containing Soy Lecithin Safe to Use If I Am Allergic to Soy?
Answer: Soy lecithin is a fatty derivative of soy which contains trace amounts of soy protein. This product is widely used as an emulsifier in various topical skin care products and drugs administered either topically, orally, intravenously or by inhalation.

Certain asthma and COPD inhalers contain small amounts of soy lecithin which could cause an allergic reaction in some individuals who suffer from food allergies to soy and/or peanuts.

Which Inhalers Contain Soy Lecithin?

The following are common COPD inhalers which contain small amounts of soy lecithin:

  • Atrovent
  • Combivent
  • Flovent

Inhalers That Don't Contain Soy Lecithin

Below is a partial list of some of the inhalers that don't contain soy lecithin:

  • Albuterol Inhalation Aerosol
  • Spiriva
  • Azmacort
  • Alupent

Although those at risk seem to be young people with asthma and those with severe peanut allergies, soy may be an underestimated as a cause of food anaphylaxis. If you have an allergy to soy and/or peanuts, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits associated with using COPD inhalers containing soy lecithin with your health care provider.

Sources:

Béliveau S, Gaudreault P, Goulet L, Primeau MN, Marcoux D. Type I hypersensitivity in an asthmatic child allergic to peanuts: was soy lecithin to blame? J Cutan Med Surg. 2008 Jan-Feb;12(1):27-30.

Foucard T, Malmheden Yman I. A study on severe food reactions in Sweden--is soy protein an underestimated cause of food anaphylaxis? Allergy. 1999 Mar;54(3):261-5.

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