Corn Allergy: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatments, and Prevention
Millions of people worldwide have different types of food allergies regardless of age, region, and gender. Though uncommon, corn allergy is a severe one among the others.
This article will provide an insight into corn allergy, its signs and symptoms, causes, and diagnoses. Individuals suffering from the same can keep reading to understand the necessary measures they can take to treat and prevent the same.
What Are Corn Allergies?
Corn allergy occurs when human’s immunity confuses corn with something harmful and eventually releases antibodies in response to fight the allergen. In addition, the body recognises the allergen and sends signals to the immune system for releasing chemicals responsible for symptoms of corn allergy.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Corn Allergy?
The potential reason behind corn allergy is exposure to corn or corn products such as fructose syrup, corn starch, vegetable oil, and more for a prolonged period.
However, reactions to this allergy vary from person to person. While for some, the signs may be uncomfortable, for others, they may be severe and, in a worse case, life-threatening. These symptoms typically take a few minutes or may take up to 2 hours after eating corn or its products.
Initial Symptoms of Corn Allergy
- Itching or tingling sensation inside the mouth
- Rashes or hives
- Breathlessness with nasal congestion
- Abdominal pain
- Indigestion including vomiting, nausea, and even diarrhoea
- Swelling lips, tongue, face, or any other body parts
Severe Symptoms of Corn Allergy
Anaphylaxis is a fatal allergic sign of corn allergy. Its symptoms are-
- Irregular heart rate
- Breathing difficulties due to swollen throat and other air passages
What Are the Causes of Corn Allergies?
In contrast to other food allergies like seafood, wheat, nuts, etc., the primary reason behind corn allergy is not confirmed. Experts believe that it may be due to a combination of genetic, environmental, and epigenetic factors. A few of them are-
- Zein, a protein found in corn, is considered a potential reason behind corn allergy. When a human body identifies zein, it releases immunoglobulin (IgE) to fight the protein. IgE, in response, stimulates the immune system cells to release histamines and other chemicals, leading to corn allergy. This reaction may result from eating raw and cooked corn or any food items that have corn in them. As all corn products do not contain zein, it is wise to avoid such foods.
- Surgical gloves or intravenous fluid containing corn may cause allergic reactions.
- Corn pollen, grass pollen, and cornstarch are a few other culprits behind severe corn allergic reactions like asthma and hay fever (nasal congestion).
Who Is at Risk of Corn Allergy?
Though it can be fatal, corn allergy is not common. Individuals with asthma, hives, hay fever and eczema are susceptible to this allergy. Furthermore, anyone with any other food allergies is also at greater risk. It is also essential to analyse if anyone in the family is allergic to corn, especially a sibling.
How to Diagnose Corn Allergy?
Diagnosis of food allergies is a daunting task. While the most common tests for corn allergy are of blood and skin, the chances of false-positive reports are high. That said, it is crucial to consider the allergic reaction of the food item that caused the allergy with the other reports as well. A few others can be-
- As corn is a popular cereal and abundantly found in other edibles, one can maintain a record of the food items that triggered any of these above-listed allergic symptoms.
- An elimination diet is another helpful way to sidestep any allergic reactions. The process includes restriction of frequently consumed food items at first. Then, those items are included in the diet at specific intervals to trace back the signs conveniently.
Note: An elimination diet should be followed for at least 2 weeks to assess the allergic reactions properly. However, it is wise to consult a professional before opting for this diet to avoid further complications.
What Are the Treatments for Corn Allergies?
The treatment for corn allergy depends on the severity of the symptoms. Treating corn allergy for mild symptoms includes managing the signs till they disappear. On the contrary, for anaphylactic reactions, the available treatments are immediate medical attention and injection of epinephrine, an EpiPen.
How to Prevent Corn Allergy?
It goes without saying that the best way to steer clear of corn allergy is to cut down corn strictly. Nonetheless, it is not as easy as it sounds. Therefore, it is essential to work out a diet with the guidance of a professional nutritionist to familiarise oneself with the fool-label ingredients.
Additionally, when eating out at a restaurant or a friend’s place or any such family gatherings, it is essential to talk to the cook or people involved in catering to get aware of preparation and ingredients to ensure 100% immunity against corn allergy.