Did You Know?
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, around 11 to 16% of the world population, including children, suffer from banana allergy.
Banana allergy simply means the inability to tolerate bananas. The fruit, no doubt, is a good source of energy, but can be a problematic or rather ‘dangerous’ food for those who are allergic to bananas. Allergy, as we know, is an abnormal immune response to substances that are actually not capable of causing harm. During an allergic reaction, the body releases certain chemicals, known as histamines to fight the allergen. These histamines trigger a wide range of allergy symptoms.
In case of bananas, proteins known as chitinase may trigger an exaggerated immune response causing the following symptoms.
Runny nose, watery eyes, and coughing are some of the common symptoms associated with banana allergy. Other symptoms are discussed below.
Those who are allergic to bananas often complain about an itchy mouth whenever they eat this fruit. Often, the itchy feeling is restricted to the roof of the mouth. Apart from an itchy mouth, the person may experience a burning sensation in the lips and a scratchy feeling in the throat.
Eating foods that you are allergic to, can negatively affect the digestive system. So after eating bananas, there is a possibility of suffering from abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Consuming this allergy food may lead to the development of skin problems like hives and eczema that are typically marked by formation of itchy rash. The rash may either be widespread or localized confined to a specific part of the body.
The itchy sensation may be accompanied by swelling of the lips, tongue, eyes, and even the throat. Swelling that may cause trouble in swallowing the food is a cause for concern and should be immediately brought to the notice of a qualified doctor.
This is a rare but life-threatening reaction typically marked by narrowing of airways. Anaphylaxis causes airway obstruction due to sudden tissue swelling, leading to breathing problems. The person may experience a feeling of throat tightness or experience a lump in their throat. The impaired air flow can lead to hoarseness (raspy or strained voice). Blood pressure may also fall sharply, causing the patient to lose consciousness. Rapid pulse, dizziness, and lightheadedness are some of the other symptoms of anaphylaxis. This severe reaction that requires urgent medical attention can happen in seconds after taking a bite of the banana.
People who have been diagnosed with latex allergy tend to be allergic to bananas. Latex is a rubber product commonly used to make balloons, rubber bands, and gloves. However, the proteins that naturally occur in latex closely resemble to proteins found in bananas and other plant foods like avocado, tomato, chestnut, kiwi, and papaya. Similarly, people who react negatively to pollen or ragweed have a greater chance of developing allergy to bananas, watermelons, cantaloupe, and honeydew. This is known as cross connectivity in which structural similarity in different types of proteins triggers immune reaction with a wide range of plant foods.
Skin problems such as eczema resulting from mild allergic reactions may be treated with antihistamine creams or capsules. Whereas, adverse reactions require immediate medical intervention. Doctors often suggest avoiding recipes that contain bananas to manage this food allergy. So, one may have a liking for banana chips or banana cake, but these foods should not be consumed. It is said that the cooking process may destroy the proteins, thereby preventing any sort of allergic reaction. However, one cannot assure that cooked bananas, such as those observed in products like banana breads, won’t cause any allergy symptoms in the long run. So, the best way to deal with banana allergy is to completely avoid this fruit.