Symptoms, what to avoid and more
A banana allergy is an allergic reaction to a protein found in bananas. This type of reaction usually occurs with allergies to other foods or with a latex allergy.
Bananas are often one of the first solids given to babies and are generally very well tolerated at this age. It is thought that a banana allergy is rare and people with a banana allergy develop it later in life.
Learn about banana allergy incidence, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and management strategies.
Incidence of banana allergy
Studies suggest that the prevalence of banana allergy is less than 1% of the general population.
Food allergies are more common in children and infants than in adults.
Research suggests that the prevalence of food allergies in children under 3 years old is between 5% and 8%.
Although banana allergy in infants is rare, some cases have been reported in infants.
An allergic reaction to food begins in the immune system. But the exact cause of food allergy is unknown.
Researchers have identified certain factors that put a person at higher risk of developing a food allergy.
If a person has an immediate family member with an allergic condition such as a food allergy, eczema, or asthma, they are at a slightly higher risk of developing an allergy to a particular food themselves.
However, individual food allergies can differ between family members.
People with other allergic conditions are more likely to develop food allergies.
For example, people who had eczema (a condition that causes red, itchy skin) as children have an increased risk of developing a food allergy.
Link to Latex Allergy
People with a latex allergy or latex food syndrome may also be allergic to bananas. This is because the proteins in latex and bananas are similar.
Latex is a natural product that comes from the rubber tree. Latex is used in products like gloves and balloons.
About 30-50% of people with a latex allergy may also have a fruit allergy. The most common are banana, chestnut, avocado and kiwi.
Banana Allergy Symptoms
Banana allergy symptoms can occur seconds or minutes after eating the banana.
Symptoms of a banana allergy can vary from person to person and can include:
- Itchy skin which may include a rash
- Itching in the mouth and throat
- Swollen lips and tongue
- swelling of the skin
- Difficulties swallowing
- Abdominal pain
- Itchy eyes
- To sneeze
In some rare cases, a banana allergy can cause serious symptoms like:
- Throat narrowing
- breathing problems
- Drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical emergency and being able to recognize the symptoms could save a life.
A person experiencing anaphylaxis can experience a variety of symptoms. These may include:
- A hoarse voice
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- To cough
- Swollen throat and difficulty swallowing
- stomach cramps
- Often itchy red rash
- Hives or welts
- Pale skin
- Redness in the face or body
- Loss of consciousness
- A sense of impending doom
Symptoms usually appear within five to 30 minutes of contact with an allergen, but in some cases symptoms can take up to an hour or two to develop.
If you or someone close to you has anaphylaxis, help them use their EpiPen (epinephrine injection) immediately if they have one prescribed and call 911.
Allergies are usually diagnosed by an allergist or immunologist. Diagnosing an allergy requires a careful history. A health care provider will begin by taking a complete medical history, as well as a physical exam.
If the medical history suggests an IgE (immunoglobulin E)-mediated food allergy, a blood or skin test will likely be ordered for the suspected food(s).
During skin testing, small amounts of extracted food are punctured under the skin of the arm or back. These bites are compared to positive and negative controls to assess allergy and ensure the validity of the test.
For blood tests, patients will have their blood drawn and have their results reviewed with them at a later date.
A blood or skin test can be used to diagnose a food allergy.
If the history is not suggestive of a food allergy or if the blood or skin test result is low enough, an allergist-immunologist may recommend a medically supervised provocation to better establish or rule out the diagnosis of food allergy.
There is no cure for food allergies, however, management strategies can make living with allergies a little easier.
People with food allergies should do everything possible to avoid their allergens. This involves paying attention to reading food labels and asking questions about restaurant meals.
It is important to always have an EpiPen on hand to prepare in case of an anaphylactic reaction.
Things to avoid
People with a banana allergy should avoid eating bananas and foods that contain them.
Fruit drinks and fruit salads may contain bananas and should be consumed with caution.
People with a banana allergy should always read food labels and be aware that bananas can also be used as a flavoring in medications.
It can also be present in shampoo or body lotion.
During a banana allergy test, it’s likely that an allergist will be able to identify other foods that may be causing a reaction in you.
People with an existing food allergy may also be allergic to other foods, so it’s important to ask your healthcare provider if this applies to you.
People with a banana allergy may also be allergic to:
- The Peach
If you are only allergic to bananas, you can freely eat other foods. Always be sure to check the label in case the banana is an unexpected ingredient.
When to See a Health Care Provider
If you think you may be allergic to bananas, contact your healthcare professional. They will be able to organize tests.
You should call a health care provider immediately if you or your child have eaten food and experience any of the following symptoms:
- Covered in hives
- Big facial swelling
- stomach cramps
- sick look
Call 911 immediately if you or someone near you has symptoms of anaphylaxis.
A banana allergy is rare and affects less than 1% of the population. Risk factors for a banana allergy include a family history of allergy or previous allergic conditions.
Symptoms of a banana allergy can vary widely and can include swelling, itching and, in severe cases, breathing problems.
An allergist will likely use either a skin or blood allergy test or a medically supervised food challenge to diagnose or rule out a banana allergy. There is no cure for a banana allergy, but avoiding bananas, reading food labels, and carrying an EpiPen are essential management strategies.
A word from Verywell
Dealing with allergies can be distressing. But a banana allergy is very unlikely. If you think you or your child has a banana allergy, consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
How common is a banana allergy?
A banana allergy is considered rare. Research suggests that less than 1% of the population is allergic to bananas.
Can you suddenly develop a banana allergy or were you born with it?
Food allergies usually first appear in children and infants. However, an allergy can occur at any time of life, including adulthood.
Allergies can be hereditary, which means they can be passed down through a family’s genes.
What is the most common fruit allergy?
It is possible to be allergic to any form of fruit, however, some fruits are more likely to be allergens than others. Commonly reported fruit allergens include:
- The Peach
Is a banana allergy the same as a latex allergy?
Some people with a latex allergy may also be allergic to bananas and vice versa. Indeed, there is a similarity between the proteins found in latex and bananas.