Bananas are tropical fruits that people of all ages love to eat. Besides being soft, creamy, and sweet, they are highly nutritious, containing a lot of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They are believed to possess cardiovascular protective properties because of their high potassium content. They also help promote good digestion, improve kidney function, and strengthen bones. Because of these qualities, bananas are popularly promoted as healthy snacks and desserts, as part of a balanced diet.
Unfortunately, a few people do not enjoy eating bananas because of the negative effects brought about by these otherwise delicious fruits. Some people experience stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, and other digestive disorders after eating them. Although most people would think that this is probably a manifestation of a food allergy, sometimes it may also be a sign of food intolerance, which is not related to an immune system reaction. Food intolerance can also manifest with symptoms of painful abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and it is more common than food allergy.
True food allergy occurs in 3-4% of adults and in 6-8% of young children. This immune system reaction may be triggered by eating just a small amount of food, such as bananas. Symptoms may range from mild tingling and itching in the mouth to facial swelling, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, or to a life-threatening situation, which manifests as difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness.
In some people, an allergic reaction to bananas may be related to pollen-induced allergies. This is called the pollen-food allergy syndrome, where there is a cross-reaction between proteins found in some pollen and those found in foods. For example, people who are allergic to ragweed pollen may exhibit an allergic reaction to bananas and melons, while those who are sensitive to birch pollen react to carrots and apples.
Aside from pollens, people who are allergic to latex may also experience a cross-reaction to proteins found in bananas. Symptoms of allergic reactions to these substances include itching, hives, respiratory symptoms, and gastrointestinal upset.
To determine whether you have food allergy to bananas or other substances, a doctor may ask you to do an oral food challenge, a blood test, and a skin prick test. These tests will test if a specific food, such as a banana, will trigger an allergic response.
The best way to treat a banana allergy is to refrain from eating the fruit or any food that contains bananas. You must be very careful in reading labels of food products that may contain extracts of the fruit.
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