The coconut is a multi used fruit and very popular in the tropics. This fruit provides natural and refreshing water which is far better than so called energy and cold drinks in the market. Some people regularly consume the fruit in order to get fit and quench thirst. Everything from the coconut palm tree is useful. When someone is allergic to coconut, it could be the seed or the products which are deprived of the fruit. The white seed in the fruit is called flesh when it is tender and as it grows older it calls copra. Some people anticipate that whoever has an allergy to nuts will be allergic to coconut as well. But this is not always the case.
We use coconut in a lot of foods including ice cream, chocolate, candy, desserts. The cosmetic products, shampoo, soap, mascara, eye shadow may contain coconut as an ingredient as well. Even some of the foods for infants include this fruit and as a parent you have to look at it if the infants have an allergy problem. Usually the reaction of coconut allergy is mild and in very rare cases the anaphylaxis can occur. Coconut is produced in a large amount in the islands where the irrigation is smooth and continuous. The water and flesh of the coconut taste sweeter on those areas. In the dry season, the production and natural growth of the coconut tree is halted or gets obstacle.
Beside the inner white flesh and water, the coconut oil or coconut milk can cause the allergy as well. As they are deprived of the main fruit thus they carry the similar protein that the original flesh contains. The contact allergic dermatitis occurs when you consume or use a product that contains the coconut protein. You may experience skin inflammation, hives and rashes almost immediately.
Does Tree Nut Allergy have Cross Sensitivity with Coconut Allergy?
The opinion gets diversified as this is yet uncertain. You may or may not suffer from coconut allergy if you have a nut allergy. This varies by individuals. So, the best advice is to do medical tests and ensure about this. Some people are confused as both tree nut and coconut includes ‘nut’ in their name. But this does not mean that both are identical in every aspect. They are different by botanical relationship but are from the similar palm family. The characteristics of protein which is the main reason for triggering allergy, is also different. But the debate is not concluded here as it has been reported by some people that who have got an allergic reaction to nuts also have the allergy to coconut. A different scenario has been observed as well.
In Europe, coconut is classified as a different fruit and thus labeling is not mandatory if a certain food product contains coconut. But in the USA, according to the rules of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), if a processed food or product contains coconut, then it should be labeled under the tree nut warning. So you can see that even the opinion is not similar in every country. So the cross reactivity of tree nuts can be or can’t be carried to coconut depending on the individual and you can only assure about this by performing a medical test under an allergist.
What Causes Coconut Allergy?
The protein of coconut causes the allergy reaction. The immune system of the body infers that the protein may harm the body and thus try to block it. The immune system creates antibodies named Immunoglobulin E (IgE) which combats with protein. As a consequence new chemicals are produced where Histamine is available in a great amount. This chemical goes through the bloodstream and affect adversely to the soft tissues such as skin.
Coconut Allergy Symptoms:
If cross sensitivity is the case with you, then the symptoms and reactions are not severe like the peanut or tree nut allergy. But you have to be careful and ready for the anaphylactic reaction which has a very low possibility to hit. These are some of the common symptoms found when someone has coconut allergies:
- Abdominal pain or stomach cramps
- Anaphylaxis (Very rare but deadly)
- Contact dermatitis
- Difficulty in breathing
- Eye pain and redness
- Facial redness
- Hoarse voice
- Insomnia (disturbed or lack of sleep)
- Low blood pressure
- Oral tingling
- Redness around the lips
- Rhinitis (nasal congestion)
- Sinus pain
- Skin rash
- Swelling on face, lips and tongue after consumption
- Unexplained cough
- Watery eyes
How to Detect it by Medical Tests?
If you go over the symptoms, then this is quite similar to other food allergies. Sometime you can anticipate the coconut allergy in a wrong way. In addition, there is a confusion about the cross reactivity as well. This is why you must contact the doctor and he will suggest what sort of medical test will detect the exact problem. The food challenge test can let you inform the exact kind of food allergy you are suffering from. In this test, the suspicious allergen will be ingested underneath your skin and the doctor will observe the result. If you don’t react to a particular allergen, then another test will be performed with other allergens and it continues. If you are positive for a particular food allergy, only then the doctor can advise you about further treatment.
Is There any Treatment for Coconut Allergy?
There are two types of treatment – prevention and medication. You can do home remedy by not including coconut to any recipe or using a product which contains this. Today you will find a lot of coconut free recipes on the internet. You should read the food label and ensure about the presence of coconut. If unsure, ask the manufacture who can inform you. The reaction is usually mild and thus antihistamine tablet should be enough. This alleviates the adverse effect reaction caused by coconut allergy and should provide relief within 10 minutes. But if you suffer from anaphylactic attack, then the scenario is different and you have to handle it with maturity and seriousness. The first responsibility is to call for emergency medical help. Beside this you have to be prepared with epinephrine injection which is considered as the best medication in case of anaphylaxis. If even two doses of epinephrine injection are not enough, you might need additional steroids to ingest under the supervision of an allergist.