A banana allergy is a rare food allergy that can cause reactions ranging from the mild to the severe. The Mayo Clinic reports that less than five percent of adults suffer from a food allergy, though as many as eight percent of children may be afflicted. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the major foods that are responsible for nine out of ten food allergies are eggs and dairy products, fish and other seafood, nuts, wheat or gluten, and soybeans. Allergies to bananas fall into the rarest group of food allergies that affect less than one percent of the population.
Symptoms of allergies to bananas generally manifest themselves within a couple hours of consumption. In a banana allergy, the body treats a component of the fruit like it would an infection, creating an unnecessary immune response.
Though rare, allergies to bananas can be very serious. If ingested by someone with a banana allergy, symptoms can begin with irritation and discomfort. Skin may develop hives, a rash, or become itchy. With a banana allergy, symptoms of the digestive system may include bloating, diarrhea, and vomiting. Other symptoms of allergies to bananas include swollen tongue or lips, trouble swallowing, pain or cramps in the midsection, and a stuffy nose.
In severe cases of allergies to bananas, a condition known as anaphylactic shock can develop. Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is a major allergic reaction that can cause trouble breathing, fainting, and shock. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can be a fatal reaction if not treated immediately. The Food and Drug Administration reports that anaphylactic reactions to food leads to 30,000 trips to the emergency room and about 150 deaths per year.
An allergic reaction to bananas is often related to a latex allergy. According to the Better Health Channel of Australia, certain proteins that are found in latex are also found in bananas, so a similar reaction may develop from both products. This can be a chicken and the egg situation, as a latex allergy may contribute to allergic reactions to bananas and a banana allergy can contribute to the development of a latex allergy.
Though rare, a banana allergy can be serious. Food allergies are responsible for tens of thousands of cases of anaphylactic shock each year and in rare cases they may even cause fatal reactions. Any questions about allergies to bananas, symptoms, anaphylaxis, or latex allergy should be directed to an individual’s doctor.
Food Allergies: What You Need to Know. Food and Drug Administration. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Food Allergy. Mayo Clinic.
Latex Allergy. Better Health Channel. State of Victoria, Australia.