Can You Have an Eggplant Allergy?
Eggplant is a food rich in nutrients that is commonly used all around the world. Eggplants belong to the nightshade family. It is often mistaken for a vegetable, but it is actually a fruit, just like a tomato. Unfortunately, in some people, this food triggers allergic reactions ranging from mild to severe. This type of allergy is rare, but it may be dangerous.
If you have an allergy to eggplant, you should be use caution and avoid eating this food. Remember that the presence of eggplant in a dish may not be obvious. Besides, in many vegetarian recipes, eggplant is used a meat replacement.
Eggplant allergy is more likely to affect children, but it’s also possible to become allergic in the adulthood.
What Are the Symptoms of Eggplant Allergy?
An allergic reaction to eggplant causes symptoms similar to those of other food allergies. If you are allergic, you may feel some abnormal reactions happening in your body after eating this fruit.
The symptoms may include: tingling tongue, itchiness in the mouth, lips, and throat, hives, swollen lips and mouth, coughing, nausea, upset stomach, or diarrhea. In most cases, these symptoms appear soon after an allergic person eats an eggplant. However, it may take up to several hours for them to appear, in some cases.
As mentioned earlier, reactions to eggplant may range from mild to severe. In severe cases, an exposure to eggplant causes an anaphylactic reaction, which is a life-threatening condition. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate medical help.
The symptoms of such a reaction include: swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing and swallowing, wheezing, low pulse, confusion, and nausea. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek an emergency help right away.
Who Is at Risk for an Eggplant Allergy?
Eggplant is a plant that belongs to a nightshade family, which also includes, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Being allergic to other nightshades increases the risk of reacting to an eggplant.
Another example of cross-reactivity is linked to salicylate – a chemical contained in eggplant. This chemical is an ingredient in aspirin, meaning that people allergic to aspirin or sensitive to salicylate are also at a higher risk for an eggplant allergy.
Usually, children are more susceptible to developing an allergy to eggplant. But this allergy can also affect older children and adults.
Even if you don’t react to your very first exposure to the allergen, the symptoms of an allergy may develop later.
How Is an Eggplant Allergy Diagnosed?
If you develop allergy-like symptoms after eating an eggplant for the first time, you will need to visit your doctor to see what’s causing your symptoms.
In some cases, the cause of a reaction may be obvious, but not always. When the symptoms are delayed, it may be more difficult to diagnose an allergy. If the allergy trigger is not clear, the doctor will perform some tests to identify the culprit and foods to avoid.
Thus, you may need to undergo a skin prick allergy test or blood test (measuring the levels of immunoglobulin E antibodies) or keep a food diary where you record the foods you eat and the symptoms you have every day.
The specialists will also ask you some questions related to your medical history, history of allergies, as well as family history of allergies. Finally, based on the data obtained through examination and the severity of your symptoms, your doctor will make a diagnosis.
In case you notice the symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should seek an emergency medical treatment.
Which Foods to Avoid with an Eggplant Allergy?
If you are allergic to eggplant, you will need to avoid this food, to prevent the symptoms. Remember that this fruit can be contained in various recipes, so take caution, especially when eating vegetarian or vegan dishes and when eating out. Besides, there are some additional foods you may need to avoid.
There is a risk for cross-reactivity between eggplant and other nightshades, such as tomatoes, white potatoes, tomatillos, goji berries, peppers, and pepper seasoning.
In addition, some people may react to the salicylate contained in eggplants. This condition is known as salicylate sensitivity.
The difference between an eggplant allergy and salicylate sensitivity is that exposure to a small amount of the trigger is not likely to cause a reaction, whereas food allergies are more dangerous.
Nevertheless, if you have a salicylate sensitivity, you may need to avoid eggplants and other foods containing this chemical. These foods include: apples, blueberries, avocados, grapes, raspberries, cucumber, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and mushrooms.
Your healthcare provider can develop an individual dietary plan to help you avoid potential triggers and get all the necessary nutrients during the day. You may also want to keep a food diary to see what’s triggering your allergies.
How Do You Treat an Allergic Reaction to Eggplant?
If you develop a minor reaction, the symptoms can usually be reduced by over-the-counter allergy medications such as Benadryl. If you experience allergy symptoms for the first time, make sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible.
Your healthcare provider will determine the exact cause of the allergic reaction, which will help to develop a treatment plan.
It is also possible to experience an anaphylactic reaction to an eggplant. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate medical attention. It may take a few minutes or more for severe and life-threatening symptoms to appear.
If someone around you is having an anaphylactic shock, you should call the emergency immediately. If it’s possible, use an epinephrine auto-injector to stop the reaction. Make sure to remove all the restricting clothing and lay the person down. CRP may be needed is some cases. In case the person is vomiting, you should turn their head to the side.
EpiPen or similar medications are the only treatment you can provide immediately, when it comes to anaphylaxis. Other drugs may even make the symptoms worse.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to an eggplant allergy, the best way to prevent the symptoms is to avoid the allergen. In case of a mild reaction, you can reduce the symptoms using antihistamines available over the counter.
People allergic to eggplant may also develop the reaction when exposed to other nightshades, such as tomato or potato. If your allergy is severe, you may need to avoid these foods altogether.
In addition, the doctor will prescribe an EpiPen, in case of an emergency. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, and it requires an immediate medical intervention.