Bananas are routinely promoted as a “safe food” and will usually be given to babies as one of their first fruits. They are easy to mash, packed with nutrients and slightly sweet. Luckily banana allergies are rare but they do exist and the possibility should not be ignored.
The forms of banana allergy
This problem can take one of two very different forms, plus there are also atypical reactions.
The first type of allergy to bananas is actually an a reaction to tree pollen involving birch trees. People with the birch-pollen allergy can develop symptoms immediately after eating this fruit or up to one hour after. Usually their symptoms are a local reaction in the mouth and throat such as itching, mild swelling and redness. These symptoms are due to oral allergy syndrome, similar to seasonal problems, but with foods instead of pollen causing the reaction. The body cross reacts with the proteins in these foods, thinking they are harmful invaders. Some will also have digestive upset, but it rarely becomes a serious anaphylactic reaction.
The second form that this can take is due to the similarity between banana allergens and latex/natural rubber. It is known as the latex-fruit syndrome. Symptoms can include generalized itching (urticaria) and skin reactions (hives or a rash) and severe stomach pain with vomiting. Sometimes the vomiting up of the banana is enough to decrease symptoms, but this allergy can become an anaphylactic reaction requiring medical attention. People with the latex-fruit allergy often react to other fruits such as mangos, avocados, chestnuts, and kiwis. These all contain the protein chitinase, which leads to the cross reaction in this instance.
Aside from the two forms above, it is extremely rare, but not impossible, to have atypical reactions to bananas. It is possible they are involved in causing attention deficit symptoms, as well as rage or violent reactions followed by extended periods of sleeping. It takes careful recording of what is eaten and the person’s actions over the following 24 hours in order to determine if this is a reaction to what they ate. A complete elimination from the diet may also confirm the diagnosis (read on).
If you think you have, or your infant, has an intolerance, sensitivity or allergy this fruit, consult a physician. They will help you to confirm the diagnosis through appropriate testing and a food elimination diet or food challenge. Never try to make the diagnosis yourself.
Is there a banana allergy treatment?
There are no medications or treatment that will cure or prevent banana allergy symptoms. The most important thing to do is avoid this and any other foods you react to. Read labels on food products to be sure they have not been used in processing and ask questions at restaurants before ordering foods. Even consider contacting the manufacturer if you wish a better description of what is in the food or how it is produced. The work it takes to avoid eating them will be well worth the effort in terms of a clearance of symptoms.
Banana allergies are rare thankfully, but do occur. If you think you are having problems from this or other fruits talk with your physician and make a plan. You may find that avoiding this fruit (and any related allergy producing items) is the best thing to do.