Talking about allergies in Spanish

by Maria Inês Teixeira
January 06, 2021
man sneezing as he has allergies

What could possibly ruin your dream vacation in Barcelona?  Allergies. Allergies could.

But there’s only one thing that would be just as inconvenient – not being able to express your allergies before things get real.

When planning your trip to a Spanish-speaking country – or if you want to move to one, such as Spain – it’s important to be able to talk about your allergies. The last thing you want is a bad experience which could’ve been avoided by a bit of extra vocabulary!

Let’s review some key phrases you can start using today.

Explaining food allergies in Spanish

One of the very best things about cultures of the Spanish-speaking world is the food. Tapas, paella, arepas, ajiaco, burritos, tacos, tamales, empanadas…but hit pause. Allergies come first! The last thing you want is to feel your worst in a restaurant abroad. So here are some common food allergies in Spanish:

  • los huevos (eggs) 
  • la soja (soy)
  • los cacahuetes (peanuts)
  • el leche (milk)
  • el marisco / los mariscos (seafood)
  • el pez (fish) 
  • la mostaza (mustard)
  • el gluten (gluten)

What if you want to say you can’t eat something at all? Use “no puedo comer…” (I cannot eat….). For example:

  • No puedo comer huevos. (I can’t eat eggs.)
  • No puedo comer cacahuetes. (I can’t eat peanuts.)
  • No puedo beber leche. (I can’t drink milk.)
  • No puedo comer mariscos. (I can’t eat seafood.)

You can also ask if your allergen was used in the making of a dish:

  • ¿Este plato lleva huevos? (Are there eggs in this dish?) 

Of course, the logical sequence would be to ask waiters not to include this in your order:

  • ¿Pueden quitar las almendras, por favor? (Can you please remove the almonds?)
  • ¿Se puede comer este plato sin almendras? (Can I have this dish without the almonds?)

How to talk about breathing allergies in Spanish

Cough, fever, red eyes and difficulty breathing when all you want to do is enjoy your sweet holiday in Argentina? No, thank you! Well, if you manage to warn the people around you of your allergies, you might be able to avoid them in the first place (pets, for instance)! Here are the most common respiratory allergies:

  • el polen (pollen) – la alergia al polen (pollen allergy)
  • el polvo (dust) – la alergia al polvo (dust allergy)
  • el moho (mould) – la alergia al moho (mould allergy)
  • los perros (dogs) – la alergia a los perros (dog allergy)
  • los gatos (cats) – la alergia a los gatos (cat allergy)
  • las mascotas (pets) – la alergia a las mascotas (pet allergy)
  • la lana (wool) – la alergia a la lana (wool allergy)

Other allergies

Let’s take a look at some other common allergies that might affect you, but don’t belong to the previous categories:

  • el látex (latex) – la alergia al látex (latex allergy)
  • la penicilina (penicillin) – la alergia a la penicilina (penicillin allergy)
  • las abejas (bees) – la alergia a las picaduras de abeja (allergy to bee stings) 
  • las avispas (wasps) – la alergia a las picaduras de avispa (allergy to wasp bites)

How to say you’re allergic to something in Spanish?

All you have to say is “Soy alérgico(a)…”, using the letter “o” if you identify as a male and the letter “a” if you identify as a female. Then, you follow that up with “al/ a la/ a los/ a las”, depending on the allergen you’re talking about. Read the examples below to see what that looks like in practice:

  • Soy alérgica a la soja. (I’m allergic to soy.) (female, singular noun)
  • Soy alérgico al polen. (I’m allergic to pollen.) (male, singular noun)
  • Soy alérgico a las mascotas. (I’m allergic to pets.) (female, plural noun)
  • Soy alérgico a los perros. (I’m allergic to dogs.) (male, plural noun)

Would you be ready?

Would you be ready to explain your allergies to a waiter, a friend or a doctor in a Spanish-speaking country? You might have to, but it won’t be so difficult after practicing some of these phrases out loud! Let us know how you did!

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