A Carrot Allergy - Not As Uncommon As You Might Believe
When talk turns to food allergies, having a carrot allergy rarely seems to be a part of the discussion. Peanut allergies and shellfish allergies are the topics more likely to be discussed. When it comes to the humble carrot, that's just not the case. We know that carrots are good tasting and very nutritious, and eating carrots is said to be good for the eyes. If you grow your own, there's something very special about pulling a carrot right from the ground, wiping or rinsing off the root, and eating it on the spot. Yet, there are people who cannot eat carrots, or at least eat raw carrots, without bad things happening to them.
Some Allergens Run In The Family
It's not uncommon to have an allergy to more than a single plant or vegetable. It can truly be said that, as far as the plant world is concerned, there are some allergens that seem to run in the family. In other words, if a person has a carrot allergy, that person may quite likely be allergic to one or more of the other members of the carrot family, such as dill, celery, parsley, parsnips, and a few other plants that most of us eat without worrying about any allergens that may be lurking in them. It's the same for certain other plants as well. Those who are allergic to cucumbers for example, may also be unable to eat pumpkins, certain types of squash, or even watermelon.
There are certain groups of plants that are said to be cross-reactive when it comes to allergies. The reason for this is rather simple, and it's that the plants that make up such a group share some of the same chemicals or compounds, and it's those chemicals or compounds that a person's immune system may overreact to.
Several fruits for example, contain the same allergens that are found in pollens. That's not to say that people who tend to suffer from hay fever when there's pollen in the air, will also get watery eyes or a runny nose when eating apple, a cherry, or a peach, but some do. The allergens are there.
It's Not The Food – It's Us
It's really somewhat amazing, given the range of food items we eat, that we don't experience allergic reactions more often than we do. There are potential allergens in almost all the food items we eat. It's not what we eat however, but rather it's the makeup of our individual immune systems. If we have a carrot allergy, it's not the carrot; it's the immune system's response to the carrot. If the carrot was to blame, everyone would probably be allergic to them.
One of the reasons that some food items, like peanuts and shellfish, get so much attention, is that those who are allergic to one or the other sometimes experience anaphylaxis and go into shock, a life-threatening situation. We rarely hear these types of stories when it comes to eating carrots, but an anaphylactic response can be brought on by carrots as well.
Fortunately, having an anaphylactic response to eating carrots is something that is rarely encountered. The most common allergic reaction to carrots is the same that most people encounter when being exposed to an allergen. The usual reaction is an itchy rash or mild swelling.
If a child is allergic to carrots, but the reaction is quite mild, it may be tempting to continue to give the child carrots from time to time, not only because carrots are very nutritious, but there is always the hope that the allergy will be outgrown over time. This would be a poor practice. The immune system would continue to react, always thinking that a certain compound in the carrot is something that needs to be dealt with. If the immune system becomes overly stressed, it can experience wear and tear over time. When that happens, the symptoms are only likely to become more severe.
If you do wish to help someone who has a carrot allergy become desensitized to the allergen, let a person who is experienced in the practice take charge. That person would be an immunologist, and the procedure that person would follow is what we call immunotherapy. By undergoing immunotherapy, a person is quite often able to completely overcome a particular allergy, as the body is conditioned to think of the chemicals or compounds once perceived to be harmful, as no longer being so. Desensitizing is normally a gradual process, and as such it may take some time before any favorable results are noticeable. For some people, it can take a great deal of time, and for a few, immunotherapy may not be of much help.
It's nice when a particular food allergy we may have is with a food we seldom eat, or is not apt to be served in a restaurant, or served when we're invited out to dinner. Carrots certainly don't fit into that category, and if one does have a carrot allergy, it's probably worthwhile to consider undergoing immunotherapy. Then, you'll no longer have to put up with strange looks when you say, “please hold the carrots”.