Carrot Allergy


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Do you think you have a Carrot Allergy?!

PLEASE NOTE: The Carrot Museum does not recommend self diagnosis or self medication. The information contained in this web site has not been verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not be correct. Use the information from this page only at your own risk!  If in doubt consult a doctor.
Note: If you have diabetes it is recommended you read this before eating carrots.
Speak to your doctor or health-care provider about vitamin A rich carotenoids if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition

Researchers prove the validity of carrot allergy

Allergic reactions to carrot and celery are very uncommon in the United States, however, white carrotreactions to carrots affect up to 25% of food-allergic individuals in Europe, and are associated with cross sensitivity to celery, certain spices, mugwort, and birch pollen. Several European researchers were recently able to prove the allergenicity of carrot for the first time in a study from the August Journal Allergy & Clinical Immunology. Barbara Ballmer-Weber, MD, and colleagues from University Hospital in Zurich, Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Langen, Germany and the University of Vienna, sought to confirm sensitization to carrot by conducting several different tests on 26 patients with a history of allergic reactions to carrots.
Two food challenges were performed. The first was a double-blinded, placebo-controlled food challenge (DBPCFC), where subjects were given two different drinks: one was an active drink containing carrot and the other was a placebo drink. The second food challenge performed was a spit and chew test. The patients with a negative reactions in the DBPCFC chewed 5 g of raw carrot and spit it out. If they did not experience a reaction, they chewed and swallowed 5 g, then 10 g, and then 20 g of raw carrot. Skin tests and in vitro blood tests were performed to check for the presence of IgE, the antibody that produces allergic reactions. In vitro testing was also performed to see if allergic sensitivity to birch pollen initially triggered the sensitivity to carrots in these individuals.

In the first food challenge, researchers found that 20 patients reacted to the carrot-containing drink but not the placebo. Four patients responded to neither the carrot-containing drink nor the placebo drink. In the spit and chew test, three of these latter four subjects noted no symptoms. The fourth patient reported symptoms of oral allergy syndrome (itching of the throat and mouth) after swallowing 5 g of raw carrot. Researchers found that all patients who had positive DBPCFC's also had positive skin test results to raw carrot, while all patients who had negative DBPCFC's had negative skin tests and did not have subsequent reactions to the ingestion of carrot. Additionally, all of the carrot-allergic patients also had birch pollen specific IgE. However, in vitro testing of the serum from the carrot-allergic patients revealed that allergic binding could not be blocked by birch pollen proteins.

For the first time researchers were able to confirm carrot allergy in 20 of 26 European patients using DBPCFC protocol with carrot. Although these allergic patients produced IgE to both carrot and birch pollens, in vitro testing seemed to discount the theory that exposure to airborne birch pollen always precedes and predisposes allergic patients to the development of carrot allergies.
The AAAAI is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Allergy/immunology specialists are pediatric or internal medicine physicians who have elected an additional two years of training to become specialized in the treatment of asthma, allergy and immunologic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has more than 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The Academy serves as an advocate to the public by providing educational information through its Web site.  Click here to go there.

There is some evidence that people who are allergic to raw carrots are not allergic to cooked ones. This is because when carrots are cooked, the potentially allergenic proteins within them unravel, rendering them safe from targeting by the immune system. Read more here. Available to download in Word format from the Museum here.

EDITOR'S NOTE: These studies were published in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. See J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Aug;108(2):301-7. Carrot allergy: double-blinded, placebo-controlled food challenge and identification of allergens.

There are also cases of allergy to Carotene - read more here (Daily Express UK report)

Carrots and their leaves can cause dermatitis in sensitive skins. Read more here. Or download the extract report here.

Carrots have been known (rarely) to contain toxic chemicals: recent routine tests found unacceptably high levels of organophosphorus pesticides (used to kill the carrot fly) in some carrots. Peeling carrots and slicing off their tops removes virtually all of these residues. But beware that most of the goodness in carrots is in the skins. (detail here)

Allergy information for Daucus Carota (Manchester University) "Carrot allergy is generally associated with allergy to birch pollen or with the celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome. Allergy to carrot seems rather less common than the related allergy to celery. The most common symptom of carrot allergy seems to be the oral allergy syndrome as is often seen with other birch pollen related allergies. However, as for celery, severe symptoms have been reported for carrot allergy."  - Full report here.


Do I Have a Carrot Allergy?

(source https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/carrot-allergy)

 The basics

Carrots bring sweetness, color, and nutrition to many dishes. This vegetable is rich in beta carotene and fiber. For those who are allergic, carrots are also chock-full of potentially harmful allergens. 

A member of the parsley-carrot family (Apiaceae), carrots are more likely to cause allergic reactions when eaten raw than when cooked. This is because cooking unravels the allergenic proteins in carrots and lessens the impact they have on the immune system. 

Allergic reactions to carrots can range from mild to serious. As with any allergy, consulting with a doctor can help you manage your symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of a carrot allergy?

Carrot allergy symptoms are most often associated with oral allergy syndrome. Symptoms typically occur when a piece of raw carrot is in the mouth. And symptoms go away as soon as the carrot is removed or swallowed. 

Symptoms can include: 

itchy mouth

swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat

itchy ears

scratchy throat

These symptoms usually don’t require treatment or medication. More severe symptoms may require medication, such as an antihistamine. These symptoms include: 

swelling under the skin

hives

difficulty breathing

dizziness

tightness in the throat or chest

difficulty swallowing

sore throat or hoarseness

cough

runny nose

sneezing

nasal congestion

irritated, itchy eyes

anaphylaxis

Risk factors and cross-reactive foods

If you’re allergic to carrots, there are several other foods and plants you might be allergic to. This is known as cross-reactivity. For example, people who are allergic to carrots are often allergic to birch pollen. This is because carrots and birch pollen have similar proteins and can cause your immune system to react in the same way. Your body releases histamine and antibodies to fight off the proteins, causing allergy-related symptoms. You may also be allergic to other vegetables and herbs in the parsley-carrot family.

These include: parsnip, parsley, anise, chervil, celery, fennel, caraway, dill, cumin, coriander

Are complications possible?

Although carrot allergy is uncommon, it can cause serious complications for some people. Occasionally, a whole-body reaction, called anaphylaxis, may occur. Anaphylaxis can happen even if you’ve only had mild allergic reactions to carrots in the past. It’s potentially fatal and requires immediate medical attention. 

Anaphylaxis may begin with mild allergic symptoms, such as itchy eyes or a runny nose, within minutes or hours after exposure to an allergen. Other symptoms of anaphylaxis include: swelling of the mouth, lips, and throat; wheezing, gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

If anaphylaxis escalates and is left untreated, you may experience difficulty breathing, dizziness, low blood pressure, and even death.

 If you or someone else appears to be having an anaphylactic allergic reaction, call your local emergency services and get medical help immediately. 

If your doctor is concerned about your allergies and anaphylaxis, you may be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen), which you will need to carry around at all times.

You’d think a food as colorful as carrots would always be obvious to the eye, but that’s not always the case. Because of their sweet, earthy flavour, carrots are often used as an ingredient in products you typically wouldn’t suspect. If you have carrot allergy, you’ll need to be vigilant about checking labels and asking about a meal’s ingredients when you eat out.

 Products that may include carrots are: bottled marinade, packaged rice mixes; fruit and vegetable juices; fruit smoothies; “green” blended health drinks; certain soups, such as chicken or vegetable soups; canned stew; ready-made pot roast, brisket, and other roasted meat dishes; cooking broth; baked goods.

Carrot can also be found in some personal hygiene products, such as: facial scrub, masks, lotions, cleansers.

 When to see your doctor

If you experience an allergic reaction to carrot, it may help to see your doctor while the reaction is occurring, or shortly after. If your allergy symptoms persist or worsen, you should consult with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend that you use over-the-counter antihistamines to control or reduce your symptoms. If you experience any symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Outlook

If you have, or suspect you have, a carrot allergy, talk to your doctor. Many medications can help you manage or reduce your allergy symptoms, The best way to avoid symptoms is to avoid carrots and products that contain carrots. And it’s important that you read all product labels.

What can I use as a substitute?

Foods to try - Pumpkin, Sweet potatoes and  Squash

Carrots are a wonderful source of beta carotene, which the body turns into vitamin A. If you’re unable to eat carrots, the best way to ensure that you get enough of this all-important nutrient is to go for other foods that are the same bright orange colour. Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are both great sources of beta carotene. They can generally be used as substitutes for carrots in many recipes.

PLEASE NOTE: The Carrot Museum does not recommend self diagnosis or self medication. The information contained in this web site has not been verified for correctness. Some of the information contained herein is hearsay and may not be correct. Use the information from this page only at your own risk!  If in doubt consult a doctor.
Note: If you have diabetes it is recommended you read this before eating carrots.
Speak to your doctor or health-care provider about vitamin A rich carotenoids if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing the condition


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