Carrot allergy is not included in the list of top six food allergies and hence, those people who are allergic to pollen food, suffer from similar allergic reactions to carrots. What is pollen food allergy? It is a syndrome that occurs by a cluster of allergic reactions in the mouth after consuming certain vegetables, fruits and nuts. As the allergens target the mouth area, it is also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome or OAS. In medical terms, OAS represents cross-reactivity between the remains of tree or weed pollen that is still present in some fruits and vegetables.
If you are allergic to pollen, you will be allergic to pollen foods and carrots too. This is because of the structural similarity between carrots and other pollen foods. The structure of pollen proteins is similar to carrot proteins. As I have said above, the uncooked pollen foods or raw carrots for that matter, cause allergic reactions because, cooking destroys the allergic proteins in carrots which makes them non-allergic. However, regardless of the carrots being cooked, some people are allergic to them. In such cases, precaution and treatment are the only things that can be taken. Following are some signs and symptoms of raw carrot allergy in adults as well as children.
Symptoms in Adults
Birch pollen, a food allergen that produces allergic signs and symptoms in the person consuming raw food, is the inhalant allergen that cross-reacts with the carrot. If you have a mild carrot allergy, you may develop some common reactions soon after its consumption. Given below are the areas that are most affected by the allergens and the symptoms that they show.
Digestive System Skin Respiratory System Oral System
Nausea Itching Wheezing (where each breath produces a whistling sound) Burning sensation in the lips and mouth
Vomiting Hives (raised areas like mosquito bites) Cough Swelling of the lips, tongue and mouth
Constipation Red rashes Chest tightness Itching of the lips, tongue, throat and soft palate
Cramping Eczema Nasal congestion Tingling sensation in the mouth and hoarseness
This is an extreme condition experienced by a person allergic to carrots and other pollen foods where he/she gets anaphylactic shock and faces difficulty in breathing, has low blood pressure and feels unconsciousness. Furthermore, it can cause increased heart rate, anxiety, confusion and dizziness leading a person into coma or even death. These symptoms usually appear rapidly within a few minutes of exposure to the allergen and can be life-threatening, if the person does not get immediate medical attention.
Carrot Allergy in Babies
When a baby’s immune system detects a harmless substance as a harmful one, an allergic reaction takes place. The immune system starts producing antibodies to protect the baby from more exposure. However, on frequent exposures, the antibodies cause allergic reactions against the allergen. Common symptoms appearing in babies after carrot consumption are:
- Excess gas after each new meal
- Watery and red eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Swelling of the face, lips and tongue
- Closure in the throat
It is advisable to give cooked carrots to a baby at the age of 7 months and grated raw carrots when 10 months old. Consult your family doctor before introducing carrots in your child’s diet. It is also very important to be able to differentiate between an allergy and a digestive disorder. Some kids have certain digestive disorders because of which they cannot tolerate certain foods, whereas some of them are actually allergic to some foods. An allergist can determine whether it is an allergy or a digestive disorder through various tests.
Tips to Prevent and Treat Carrot Allergy
- The easiest way to prevent carrot allergy is to avoid carrot consumption altogether. Once you know the culprit, it’s better to exclude it from your diet rather than looking for treatments afterwards.
- Sometimes, even when you stand close by the stove and inhale the steam of cooking carrots, you may suffer from sore throat, suffocation and difficulty in swallowing. If the steam goes into your eyes, it may cause conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye. So try to keep away from carrots when they are being cooked.
- While eating outside, a precautionary measure you can take is, read the food labels or inquire about the ingredients that go into making a particular food item.
- Even after being extra careful, if you suffer from carrot allergy, you will either have to consider some treatment options (in case of mild allergy symptoms) like antihistamines or, visit an allergist (in case of a life-threatening situation).
On a concluding note, being allergic to carrots can be dealt with. Even if you are not able to prevent it, proper diagnosis and correct treatment will help you minimize the complications.