Banana allergy is one of the food allergy found in nearly 0.1 to 1.2% people in different parts of the world. Some people might find food allergy symptoms to be little uncomfortable, but not severe and for others, these can be terrific and can even be life-threatening. Although it is not very common, but there is potential of banana allergy to lead to anaphylaxis. Some important information on banana allergy, its causes, symptoms and treatments are discussed in the following lines. Food allergies of any kind are usually caused due to allergy to certain proteins. Those who suffer from nut allergies and other food allergies are usually not allergic to the food material, but the proteins present in them.
Like all food allergies, banana allergy is also caused due to a protein known as chitinase. Chitinase often causes the immune system of the body to react in an unfavorable manner. This is a type 1 allergy caused by contact with bananas. People who have a banana allergy may also be allergic to kiwi fruit and avocado because the protein chitinase is also present in these other fruits.
Today, bananas are a very popular fruit all over the world. Since it is not a seasonal fruit, bananas are available all through the year. Banana allergy is not a very common disorder. A lot of people who claim to be allergic to bananas in fact only have intolerance towards the fruit. There are certain amines in bananas which cannot be digested by those who have a weak and sensitive digestive system. The enzyme called diamine oxidase, which is used to digest these amines may be absent in certain individuals. Such people are not able to breakdown the proteins in bananas and therefore have allergy type reactions which are often mistaken for the actual banana allergy.
Banana Allergy Symptoms
Intolerance to the vaso-active amines can cause severe reactions which seem a lot like allergic reactions. Histamine, serotonin and dopamine are some of the vaso-active amines that may produce symptoms of allergic reactions. Kids with banana allergy can outgrow them, but people who develop this as adult should avoid banana allergens for the rest of life. Some of these symptoms are:
1. Itching in mouth
- One of the most important allergic symptom caused by banana include itching in mouth area affecting tongue, lips and throat.
- This itching may also spread to the skin and eyes.
- While discussing these symptoms with the doctor, you must also tell about other known allergies.
- There are reports which say that people having ragweed or latex contact allergies, also have banana allergies, according to ‘The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’
- Inflammation leading to itching generally brings swelling to the same parts of the body.
- Those symptoms which are limited to the mouth are termed ‘oral allergy syndrome’.
- If the symptoms extend to the other parts of the body, they may result into hives, red rash or welts on the skin.
- Severe allergic symptoms caused due to banana consumption can also swelling on eyes and face, leading to pain and tenderness.
3. Abdominal pain
- According to University of Maryland, banana allergies causes a variety of gastrointestinal issues and often starts with nausea.
- Cramping and stomach pain occurs shortly after consuming banana, when its digestion starts.
- In some people, allergic reactions are provoked with immediate diarrhea and vomiting.
4. Sudden shock
- Allergy due to banana triggers a decrease in blood pressure. According to Nemours Foundation, the respiratory problems limits blood oxygen levels and this leads to anaphylactic shock.
- If the symptoms persist and include a racing or weak pulse, sudden loss of consciousness and light-headedness, then immediately seek the doctor’s advice.
Some of the other common symptoms are:
- Cramping in the abdomen
- Increased heart palpitations
- Headaches and migraines
- Watery eyes
- Coughing, sneezing and wheezing
- Runny nose
Though these symptoms are usually mild, in certain cases, the amount of bananas ingested can increase the severity of the attack.
Treatment and Prevention of Banana Allergy
Banana allergy is caused due to the adverse reaction by the immune system of the body to bananas or foods containing banana. Though, banana allergy is rare, but, if its serious reactions have occurred, it can be life-threatening. The immune system of the body produce immunoglobulin E, an antibody and histamine in response to combat the allergen. Some specific symptoms seen in this allergy can be countered with the following preventive measures:
Avoid bananas: If you observe that consuming banana has triggered to some allergic reactions in the body, then it is better to avoid the fruit. Completely avoid raw banana and foods containing raw banana like milk shakes, However, many people can tolerate cooked banana, such as in cakes. This is because proteins causing reaction are deactivated while cooking.
Due to cross-reactivity, people who allergic to latex, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, melon and various pollens are asked if they ever had issues ingesting banana. A banana free diet is recommended unless consumption of banana is reported with perfect tolerance.
Over the counter antihistamines: If you have mild reaction, you can take over the counter antihistamines that will help relieve the symptoms like itching and hives.
Medical help: If you have encountered serious complications, then you must seek emergency help.
Epinephrine: Your doctor will give an epinephrine shot which will help counter the serious reactions caused due to banana allergy.
Skin prick test: A medical help provider will perform skin prick test which will determine the reaction to a particular food. A tiny amount of a chemical is pricked into the skin with a needle. If a person is allergic to that particular protein, a bump is raised on the skin.
Blood test: Another important examination is blood test which helps measure the response of the immune system to a particular food. This test measures the amount of Immunoglobulin E antibodies in the bloodstream.
Food allergic people should be always cautious about what they are eating whether inside or outside the home. Always read the labels of packaged foods if they contain any allergen to avoid the allergic conditions.