According to reports, allergy to tomatoes has greatly increased during the recent years. Well, who does not like tomatoes? It is a commonly found ingredient in pizzas and sandwiches. Kids are fond of tomato-flavored snacks. Allergy to tomato (raw) or in processed form signifies that this amazing red colored fruit is a potential cause of adverse reactions in your body.
What is tomato allergy?
Tomato allergy is basically a contact allergy wherein hypersensitivity reaction occurs when a person prone to this allergy comes in contact with the allergen (tomato). Tomato allergy is also known as type 1 allergy. It is prevalent both in infants as well as in adults. Despite of having high possibility to develop allergic reactions to tomato, western cuisines use a lot of tomato in various preparations.
Tomato allergy is mainly caused due to the malfunctioning of immune system. The body’s immune system triggers adverse reactions by producing antibodies immunoglobulin E (IgE) and chemicals such as histamines whenever it comes in contact with raw tomatoes or food products containing tomato as ingredient. The cause of most food allergy is immune-specific reaction and tomato allergy is not an exception. The protein found in the skin, juice and seed of tomato is solely responsible for initiating the adverse allergic reactions in the body.
Sometimes, the cause of tomato allergy is exercise-induced and occurs when a person performs vigorous exercises within sometime of having tomato containing food products.
Cross-reactivity between pollen and tomato might be a possible factor to cause tomato allergy in people.
Nutritional value of tomato
A person allergic to tomato should be aware of its nutritional value so as to compensate their requirements with nutritional supplements. Tomato is a rich source of vitamin A, folic acid and vitamin C. Moreover, it is a hub of an array of nutrients and antioxidants such as lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein. Tomato is famous for its anti-cancerous properties; hence having it on a regular basis can be quite beneficial for health.
Symptoms of tomato allergy
Tomato allergy usually causes irritations and other mild symptoms and very rarely life-threatening anaphylaxis reactions and death. The onset of tomato allergy symptoms usually takes place shortly after the protein present in tomatoes and tomato-based products is consumed.
The symptoms include:
- Skin rashes, itching, swelling, hives or eczema
- Tingling sensation in the throat and tongue
- Swelling of the tongue, throat, mouth or face
- Sneezing, coughing, wheezing or runny nose
- Abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea
- Very rarely severe anaphylaxis symptoms such as dizziness, difficulty to breathe and loss of consciousness
Tomato Allergy Eczema
Tomato’s allergic reaction may also be a reason behind eczema.
Ten percent allergic eczema is due to foods containing tomatoes and nuts. The common symptoms of tomato allergy eczema are:
- Sudden rashes
- Sudden severe itching
- Redness on skin
Rashes may occur recurrently and immediately after exposure of food allergens such as tomatoes and nuts.
Certain factors put people at considerable risk of developing tomato allergy; those include:
- Past allergies: The presence of tomato or any other food allergy in the past can trigger the development of allergic reactions to tomato in the future.
- Family history: There is an increased susceptibility to tomato allergy for other members if it is already prevalent in the family.
- Atopic disorders: Atopic dermatitis (eczema) and asthma increase the likeliness to develop allergic reactions to tomato. In fact, tomatoes are known to be irritants to those having eczema.
Other allergies associated with tomato allergy
People suffering from tomato allergy are greatly prone to other nightshade allergies including tobacco, eggplant and potatoes.
Cross-reaction to latex commonly known as latex-fruit syndrome is also quite often in people with tomato allergy.
Test & Diagnosis of Tomato Allergy
Diagnosis of tomato allergy is essential in terms of confirmation of the presence of allergen in the body and right treatment. If symptoms similar to tomato allergy persist in an individual, they should seek proper diagnosis without any delay. The formal diagnosis methods include:
- Skin prick test: In this test, the skin is pricked with the help of a needle and a small amount of suspected allergen is incorporated in the pricked area to check for the consequence. If small rashes like mosquito bite emerge, the presence of the concerned allergen can be detected.
- Blood test: This is a test wherein the blood is checked for the presence of the antibodies immunoglobulin E (IgE) to the antigenic protein. Positive result determines the presence of allergen (tomato protein) and negative result rules out the presence of allergen in the body.
Treatment of Tomato Allergy
Like all other food allergies, the best possible treatment is to rely on a diet completely devoid of tomato protein. However, since tomato is used as an ingredient in so many Western dishes, avoiding it solely is a major challenge for individuals with tomato allergy. With a little ingenuity and smartness, the allergic reactions to tomato can be tricked and avoided. Slight changes in preparation of tomato containing recipes can largely help in this aspect. You may consult your dietician for apt advice related to processing of food containing tomatoes.
Another way to treat allergic reactions to tomato is obviously medications. Medicines containing anti-histamines can be used to treat allergic reactions successfully. The allergic rashes can be treated quite effectively with the help of topical steroidal ointment.
Diet, nutrition and caution
It is rightly said prevention is better than cure. Although medicine science has evolved greatly to treat the allergic reactions to tomato, yet it is always advisable to avoid the allergy as much as possible from the sufferer’s end. This is possible only through a good level of awareness and inquisitiveness. One should always read the food labels while purchasing any food product to avoid the entry of a potent allergen through an unknown source. In case of any doubt, feel free to contact the manufacturer directly to gain an insight into the hidden ingredients.
While having food at restaurants, ensure that your food of choice does not have any tomato content. Cooking has a pivotal role to play in this aspect. While cooking at home, you may follow the alternate cooking methods that reduce the chances of developing allergic reactions to tomato. In this way, you can not only enjoy your favorite dishes but also cut down on the likeliness to suffer from tomato allergy without compromising on the nutrition value.