If you have a physical reaction after eating corn or corn-derived products – if you develop hives or become nauseated, or your nose begins to run, for example – you may be allergic to corn. ~ American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Have you ever known someone with a corn intolerance? Do you deal with the condition? (If so, we’d love to read your opinion on the article. Please comment!)
This writer has never known anyone with a corn allergy. Part of the reason, apparently, is because corn allergy is quite rare. Additionally, corn allergies are difficult to spot as the symptoms are similar to those of grain, grass pollen, and seed allergies.
Rare or not, food allergies can pose a serious threat to health. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 30,000 people require emergency room treatment and 150 individuals die from food allergies every year.
The problem got so bad that in 2004 the (FDA) passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). The law was necessary, as food manufacturers were failing to properly label products that included both common and rare allergens.
Astoundingly, the language within FALCPA did not list corn as an allergen! (Kickbacks anyone?)
Anyways, despite this egregious mistake, it is important to know the ingredients and products derived from corn if you’re concerned about a potential allergy.
Here they are: baking powder, caramel, cellulose, citric acid, dextrin, dextrose, inositol, malt, maltodextrin, monosodium glutamate (MSG), semolina, sodium erythorbate, sorbitol, starch, vanilla extract, xanthan gum and xylitol.
Symptoms of corn allergy
Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI):
“Physical reactions to corn and corn products may range from mild to severe. A life-threatening allergic reaction anaphylaxis (pronounced ‘anna-phil-axis’), in which airways swell, breathing is impaired, and blood pressure is lowered. (Anaphylaxis) can come on very quickly; if it isn’t treated with epinephrine (adrenaline) as soon as symptoms are noticed, it can be fatal.”
Anaphylaxis can send the body into shock – the result of a sudden drop in blood pressure to the brain, heart, and lungs. It’s worth noting that, in several medical studies, symptoms of anaphylaxis have been linked primarily to the corn-based products dextrose and cornstarch.
Besides anaphylaxis, here are eight other possible signs of corn allergy:
– Breathing trouble (a medical emergency)
– Hives (red skin bumps) or skin rash
– Muscle cramps
– Runny or stuffed nose
Due to the potentially life-threatening symptoms of food allergies, you should pay particular attention to how the food(s) affect your breathing.
Should you suddenly experience trouble breathing, please contact emergency services immediately!
Identifying a corn allergy
If particular foods are causing physical reactions, however mild, it is essential that you:
– Book a doctor’s appointment
– Write down what you eat
– Write down any and all symptoms
The above information will greatly assist the physician in narrowing down possible causes of your reaction.
After ruling out other health issues that may cause the same kind of response, the physician will perform what is called a prick test or scratch test. This particular examination involves the doctor putting a tiny amount of food solution onto the area of the skin pricked or scratched.
If the skin forms a bump, it usually indicates that an allergy is present.
(It’s worth mentioning here that allergists are licensed physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of allergic diseases. Visiting a specialist is covered by most healthcare plans.)
If you are not experiencing breathing problems and are unable to visit a physician or specialist, try just staying away from corn or corn products for a couple of weeks and see if your symptoms reside.
Prevention and Treatment
Regarding prevention, your top priority must be staying away from any product that contains corn.
This includes ‘no-brainer’ foods such as corn muffins, cornbread, and corn oil, and corn syrup (please read the labels!)
Corn byproducts are used as an ingredient in many of the following foods:
– Canned fruits and juices
– Deli meat
– Salad dressing
– Soda (diet and regular)
And some other non-food products:
– Dishwasher Soap
– Pet food
Per WebMD, here are some recommendations for anyone who is – or may be – suffering from a corn or other food allergy:
– Entirely avoid the following: baking powder, corn bran, cornmeal, corn oil, corn syrup (including fructose), maize, and vegetable oil.
– Avoid processed foods whenever possible. Instead eat fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, and whole (‘100%’) fruit juice.
– Be extra cautious at barbeques, dining halls, restaurants, and other places where food is sold.
– Carry an antihistamine, e.g., Benedryl, in case you experience a sudden episode.
– Ensure that your child’s caretakers are aware of their condition. Remind them periodically.
– Wear a bracelet that states you suffer from a food allergy.
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