Other than some hay fever, I managed to grow up mostly allergy free. I had friends with allergies to bee’s, peanut butter and those who were lactose intolerant, but on the whole, I was fairly lucky. That is until I got into my thirties.
That is when I noticed after eating banana’s I would develop some heartburn, indigestion and gas. It was not that bad initially, but as time went on the symptoms became worse. Finally getting to the point where I started to avoid eating banana’s all together. That was tough since bananas were my favorite of all fruits. I still love the thought of eating banana’s to this day and writing this is making me want one all that much more.
One day in my early thirties my family and I decided to treat ourselves with a trip to Dairy Queen for a desert. Upon arrival I saw the banana split on the menu and remembered how much I loved bananas while completely forgetting how much banana’s hate me.
It took about a half hour to be reminded of my love-hate relationship with that miraculous fruit. Things got bad, really bad. So bad that I don’t even want to describe most of the symptoms that hit me. Suffice to say, at times I thought I might die in the bathroom and nearly relented and let my wife call 911.
A while after everything was out the cramping left my stomach and the pain slowly left my chest and arm. At the time I remember thinking this is what dying feels like.
What are Food Allergies?
Any kind of food allergy is due to certain proteins contained within the food. Those who are allergic to nuts or bananas for example are not actually allergic to the nut itself, but a protein that is contained within the nut.
Causes for Banana Allergy
The first cause is a protein called chitinase. In some people chitinase will cause the body’s immune system to react as if it is a foreign invader. This allergy is a type 1 or contact allergy to banana’s. It you have this type you should also be careful of kiwi, chestnut and avacado’s. Banana allergies also tend to piggyback with latex allergies.
A second way a person can have a reaction to bananas is due to intolerance to the vaso-active amines found in bananas. These are naturally occurring histamine type substances in food which can cause symptoms that mimic allergic reactions. Vaso-active amines include tyramine, serotonin, dopamine and phenyl-ethylamine.
Symptoms of serotonin ingestion include skin flushing, headache, cramping and heart palpitations. The intensity of the reaction is dependent upon the amount of the substance which was ingested in addition to the amount of diamine oxidase (histamine metabolizing enzyme) in the subjects system. Additional symptoms for food type allergic reactions include nausea, skin rash, diarrhea, coughing, wheezing, vomiting, watery eyes, running nose and cramps. Having been through that reaction, imagine the Mongol Hoard riding through your gut hacking and slashing anything in their path.
In most cases symptoms are mild, but in some cases the attack can be much more severe including a life threatening attack.
These food allergies can develop slowly over time, starting out mild and developing into more severe reactions.
Treatment for Banana Allergy
The common treatment for allergies, including banana allergies is anti-histamines. Overwhelmingly the best treatment is by avoiding the known allergen entirely. Believe me, one severe attack and you will never forget again. The treatment for severe cases where a person goes into anaphylactic shock would include adrenalin injections.
If you have any of these conditions you should consult with your physician on proper treatment options. If you have a severe attack, get to a hospital.