Can Bananas Actually Trigger a Latex Allergy?

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Latex allergy reactions usually break out after your skin comes into contact with the substance. In fact, for many people, it’s become synonymous with contact dermatitis, or the kind of allergic reaction that causes rashes and itching to occur on skin that’s been exposed directly to latex. This is why individuals with these allergies avoid touching items that are made with latex, such as balloons and surgical gloves. It’s also why they wear latex-free organic cotton clothing, like what we offer here at Cottonique. The most important guideline there is to living with latex allergies is simply “Don’t touch it.”

So why should people suffering from a latex allergy think twice about eating bananas?

Bananas belong to a group of fruits and vegetables known to be cross-reactive with latex allergies. What this means is that patient who are allergic to latex may suffer either similar or more serious reactions if they ingest these foods. The condition is often referred to as latex-food or latex-fruit syndrome, and the reason this happens is remarkable.

Latex-fruit food items have been found to contain proteins that are similar – but not exactly the same – in structure to latex. This leads to the human immune system’s antibodies mistaking proteins for the compound, even though they technically aren’t. As a result, the antibodies react in the same way, creating swelling and irritation at the area of contact. This can actually be a little more serious than contact dermatitis because the swelling might occur in your throat, limiting your air supply.

Latex-fruit syndrome is believed to be rather prevalent in patients with latex allergies. Some experts find that close to 70 percent of latex-allergic people will experience an allergic reaction to one latex-fruit, while 50 percent will suffer reactions from more than one of these foods. It’s because of this that it would be a good idea to watch what you eat, if you have a latex allergy.

The main culprits for latex-fruit syndrome are bananas, avocados, chestnuts, and kiwis. Some people can also get allergic reactions from  apples, celery, tomatoes, papaya, carrots, and melons, although it doesn’t happen as often with these foods as it does with the first four we mentioned. If you’ve been diagnosed with latex allergies, it might be a good idea to get an allergy test for latex-fruits, too.

Remember, prevention is always the best cure, and it can only come from awareness.

 

Image from http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cavendish_banana_from_Maracaibo.jpg

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