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Are you allergic to Bananas?

Updated on April 20, 2014

Bananas. When the 'Healthy' option is the bad choice because of allergies

Can you be allergic to bananas? The quick answer is yes you can. I had personal experience of this when my son was a baby. Read how it affected him, his symptoms, and how we had to solve the problem.

Bananas are very often the first fruit we feed our children. The ease with which they can be mashed make them an ideal early food.

It is very rarely that babies are identified with a banana reaction. For my son, his allergy to this fruit was the cause of his ADHD symptoms.

He was allergic to Bananas at 8
He was allergic to Bananas at 8

My Experiences With Banana Allergies

About My son, Aiden

When my second son was around 15 months old he started to have strange 'fits'. These always followed the same pattern, he would bang his hear repetitively, on the walls, his cot or the floor. His temperature would rise dramatically. He would vomit, and then fall into a deep sleep lasting 12-15 hours. This was unusual because he never slept for more than 2 hours at a time right from birth, except when he had these symptoms.

The first few times this happened I spent several hours in casualty while he was being monitored. Eventually they told me they thought it was a kind of cerebral migraine, causing a reaction similar to an epileptic fit.

As he got older, he was investigated for ADHD. He still hardly slept at all and still had occasional fits where he became aggressive and violent, before vomiting and sleeping for anything up to 18 hours. I thought he had a very healthy diet. We were friends with a green grocer and always had lots of fruit and veg in the house. I encouraged the boys to eat fruit rather than sweets.

By the time he was 4 he had a diagnosis and we were trying the exclusion diet to see if that controlled his symptoms.

He was really good about following the diet. He stayed at nursery for lunch 2 days a week and the school cook made a point of making him something special that he could eat. His favourite was banana split.

I was shocked when the nutritionist told me the only food he had shown an intolerance to was bananas.

We cut them out of his diet immediately. Even though they were one of his favourite foods, he was really good at avoiding them. He knew how bad they made him feel, even at that young age.

One day, when he was 7 a neighbour met him from school (I was otherwise occupied giving birth). She knew Aiden was on a restricted diet, no additives etc... So she took him a banana. He told her he wasn't allowed it and she, misunderstanding him to mean he wasn't to take treats off strangers, told him it was ok to eat it.

No one ever made that mistake again.

Within minutes he was flying into an unprovoked violent rage, throwing things, hitting people and screaming. It only stopped when he had vomited and slept for almost 20 hours. Luckily no serious damage was done.

My year old grandson recently had a similar reaction. His mum had given him banana for lunch. His dad, one of my other sons, recognised the symptoms were the same as Aiden's.

Types of Banana Allergies

There are two types of banana allergys: one associated with allergy to tree pollens, such as birch, and another type associated with latex allergy. People with birch-pollen allergy can develop symptoms either immediately or up to 1 hour after eating fresh banana or a banana-containing food. Symptoms comprise local reactions in the mouth and throat with itching and inflammation.

Some people develop banana allergy because of the similarity between the allergens in banana and natural rubber latex (e.g. gloves, condoms, balloons) a condition known as the latex-fruit syndrome. Symptoms include generalised urticaria, abdominal pain, vomiting and sometimes life-threatening symptoms. These individuals often develop adverse reactions to chestnut, avocado, mango and kiwi.

Healthy with out bananas
Healthy with out bananas

Dealing with a Banana Allergy

How we coped

The only way we could stop the extreme reactions Aiden had after eating bananas was to ensure he avoided eating them. From a very young age, he learnt to associate the pain and discomfort he felt after eating a banana and evaluate it in relation to the pleasure he felt when eating one.

Even at 4 years old he was able to cooperate in controlling his diet and appreciated the value of what we were trying to do.

We never avoided having bananas in the house. I had 3 other children who enjoyed them. I don't believe you should deprive one child because of a food allergy in another. I think you should educate the afflicted child to understand their own body and reactions. This was the approach we used. And I found that the children were perfectly capable of monitoring their own healthy choices if allowed to do so.

As an adult, Aiden joined the army, in the Parachute regiment. Ironically, his ADHD patterns of sleep helped him to pass the rigorous training. HE joked that when his regiment went into a war zone, they should just give him a banana and send him in first. He still remembers the fury and rage he felt as a child.

AS an adult, he finds that he can occasionally tolerate the occasional banana as a rare treat...as long as he is alone and has no plans for the rest of the day. He has tried this a few times and has come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it.

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    • profile image

      eezcemajay 

      3 years ago

      I think I'm allergic to bananas I have suffered from ezcema my whole life I've had the prick test for allergies and the blood test but I haven't come up allergic to any common stuff....but they do know I'm allergic to something, juste ate half a banana and feel like I need to clear my throat....doesn't sound like the bad type though...should see an allergist

    • juliebirch lm profile imageAUTHOR

      juliebirch lm 

      5 years ago

      @NoBananaMom: Thank you for commenting. Can i share with you something that helped? We went to see a physio at the hospital who taught Aiden ( then 5) relaxation techniques (meditation). I bought a CD of meditaiton music and he spent some time every day practicing. This had helped him to feel he had some control. When he feels the warning symptoms, he practiced the things the physio taught him. It helped.

    • profile image

      NoBananaMom 

      5 years ago

      I just want to thank you so much for this article. My little guy has been having stomach issues and "acid reflux" since about 5 months of age. Bananas and kiwis were some of the first foods I introduced to him and noticed a rash right away and eliminated them but as he got older, we did some more purees and yogurt mixes that had a little banana and no rash...but the headbanging and rages began. His "fits" would last anywhere from 30min-1.5hrs. In August, my cousin gave him a full banana and loved it! I thought we were in the clear and started giving him more bananas. No rashes or diarrhea, so I thought he was good. But the rages increased. I didn't clue in until his legs broke out in eczema. The past months has been banana free and his "fits" are now lasting about 2mins and I would describe them as rather normal 2-year old temper tantrums. Can't wait for the 2 year check up with his GP in a couple of weeks!!

    • profile image

      sherilyn-brown-9 

      5 years ago

      I'm allergic to bannanas as well, but I just get sick. I can't even smell them without my stomach turning. When I was pregnant I would throw up just looking at them. I'm also allergic to avacodos in the same way. Both are just totally revolting to me. Some people have tried to sneak them in my food and I have a violent stomach reaction even if I don't know they're there.

    • juliebirch lm profile imageAUTHOR

      juliebirch lm 

      5 years ago

      @shelbie589: I don't know, I'm not a doctor, just a parent who has lived with a child with this allergy.

      It is possible you are allergic, it would be worthwhile having alergy tests.

    • profile image

      shelbie589 

      5 years ago

      Every time I eat bananas my lips start to itch am I allergic?

    • profile image

      klangert 

      5 years ago

      I too can not tolerate bananas or apples. and it is amazing how many people just don't get it! THey look at me as odd for declining what they consider Health food. I completely believe we are all very individual and each of our bodies need something different. I am sure we will be seeing much more on this topic! Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      theravingpirate 

      5 years ago

      I'm allergic to bananas, actually. I'm extremely allergic to ragweed and have Oral Allergy Syndrome so if I eat anything with bananas in it, I basically feel like I swallowed lava for a while. My mouth & throat burn and my lips swell up. It has something to do with the pollens in bananas being similar to that in ragweed so it triggers my immune system.

      You'd be surprised to find out what sorta allergies are out there.

    • MillBucks profile image

      MillBucks 

      5 years ago

      Great info on a rarely known allergy, just goes to show how such information makes Squidoo the place to learn about different topics!

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 

      6 years ago from Chicago area

      I always thought bananas & rice were really "safe" -- interesting!

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 

      6 years ago from Benson, IL

      Wow...I never would have guessed. But I know someone who is actually allergic to MSG and can't eat Chinese food because of it, so I suppose you never can tell. It's AWESOME that you were able to track down what was causing his symptoms.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 

      6 years ago

      Wow! This is very interesting!!!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 

      6 years ago

      Amazing. I suppose anyone can be allergic to something. Thank you for publishing this lens. There sure is a wealth of info here on Squidoo.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting. I've never heard anything about banana allergies until now.

    • sisbrown34 lm profile image

      sisbrown34 lm 

      7 years ago

      I never new that! Thanks for telling me!

    • profile image

      jidianer 

      7 years ago

      Good post,thanks for sharing!.

    • njmanura lm profile image

      njmanura lm 

      7 years ago

      Good lens on banana aleergy

    • juliebirch lm profile imageAUTHOR

      juliebirch lm 

      7 years ago

      @tealmermaid: I know, I was reading around the topic and in severa ADHD/Autism forums they were promoting bananas as a 'safe' food. Most people I speak to find it weird that it was th enatural option that was causing the reaction, and not the refined sugars.

    • profile image

      tealmermaid 

      7 years ago

      Good lens topic. I'm allergic too, and it's terrible that we never hear about allergies to "safe" foods like bananas.

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