You must have heard of other food allergies but may not have heard of potato allergy, this is because it is rare. Potato is a staple food that can be used as both snacks and main food. Potato allergy can occur in both children and adults of any age, it can be allergy to raw and cooked ones. When you are allergic to potato, your body sees the protein in the potato as harmful viruses and bacteria, this makes the immune system to isolate these proteins and attack them.
The immune system attacks by sending white blood cells and other compounds like IgE antibody to protect the body, the white blood cells that are sent out release histamine. These attacks by the immune system results to the symptoms you feel. There are other compounds in potato like patatin (also called glycoprotein) and alkaloids (like solanine).
HOW COMMON IS POTATO ALLERGY
Potato allergy is not really common but it occurs. A study in 2017 were about people with potato allergies; out of 2000 patients in the allergy unit of a hospital, 10.1% of them were allergic to potatoes. The allergic reactions happened mostly with raw potatoes and not cooked ones.
SWEET POTATO ALLERGY
Just like potatoes, some people may have sweet potato allergy when they eat or come in contact with sweet potatoes. Sweet potato is different from potato, they may both be tuberous root vegetables but they come from different families. While potatoes are from the nightshade family, sweet potatoes come from the morning glory family.
Their looks are also different; sweet potatoes have orange flesh inside and potato have white or yellow flesh. Allergies in sweet potatoes also occur when the body senses proteins in sweet potatoes as bacteria and triggers the immune system to release histamine which causes the symptoms you feel.
POTATO ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
There are symptoms that may occur when people who are allergic to potato touch or eat including peeling them. Some of the reactions can be:
- Swelling of the throat, mouth or tongue when eaten
- Rashes like eczema on the skin, these rashes can cause itching.
- Itchy and watery eyes.
- Runny nose.
- Sore throat, you can also have scratchy throat too• Breathing difficulties• Tingling feeling on the lips• Vomiting.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Drop in blood pressure.
In serious cases, you can have some reactions that will result to life-threatening issues that need medical attention, this condition is called anaphylaxis. Some of the symptoms that are life-threatening are:
- Warm pulse
- Extreme difficulty in breathing
- Feeling of heat sensation throughout all parts of the body
- Pale skin
- Excess gas release
- Swollen tongue and throat
SWEET POTATO ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
Sweet potato allergy symptoms will show when you eat or peel them.
These reactions can be:
- Swelling of the face
- Rashes on the skin
- The tongue can become inflamed
- Itching on the skin including the throat and the eyes
- Pain in the abdomen
- Swollen throat
- Difficulty in breathing that can cause death if treatment is not gotten earlier.
POTATO AND SWEET POTATO ALLERGY IN BABIES
Just like adults, babies can also have potato allergy to both potatoes and sweet potatoes. According to a review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, number of children who have food allergies in United States are on the increase and potatoes including sweet potatoes are not left out. Introducing your baby or infant to solid food can be a daunting task because you would not know the exact preference or choice of the baby.
Another issue is if the baby will become allergic to the food. Potatoes and sweet potatoes are good choices for solid foods to introduce to your infant as they can easily sink their teeth and gums into the potatoes if they are properly cooked. However, you should not cancel the chances of your baby being allergic to potatoes. This can be rare but it happens.
Some of the symptoms that the infant will experience can be:
- Itching of the eyes, mouth, throat and other parts of the body
- Inability or difficulty in swallowing
- Breathing difficulties
- Swollen lips, throat and tongue
- Abdominal pain
REGULAR AND SWEET POTATO ALLERGY IN DOGS
You may think that only humans are allergic to both regular and sweet potatoes, dogs can be allergic as well. The allergic reaction is caused when the immune system of a dog sees the protein in potato as harmful and puts out defensive response. There are about 60-70% immune system cells in a dog’s digestive system which are mostly white blood cells.
When foods are taken to the stomach, the digestive system breaks it down and the white blood cells present in the system also called enterocytes absorbs them. In the case of potatoes, the proteins are not completely broken down, this makes the enterocytes to attack them because they see these proteins as harmful substances. Also, when the juice from potatoes touches the skin of the dog, it can cause itching and rashes.
SYMPTOMS OF REGULAR AND SWEET POTATO ALLERGY IN DOGS
According to Wag, a dog clinic; here are some symptoms that may show your dog is allergic to potatoes.
- Biting of paws
- Chronic release of gas
- Severe ear infection
- Bald patches
- Walking difficulties
- Inflammation of the feet
- Rubbing of the face
- Infection of the skin
- Obsessive licking
In severe cases, the dog may experience:
- Rapid heart beat
- Drop in blood pressure
- The gums may become pale
- Cold limbs
- Breathing difficulties
FOODS TO AVOID WHEN YOU HAVE POTATO ALLERGY
One of the ways to avoid having allergic reactions when you eat potatoes is to stay away from any food that has potato as an ingredient. Potato is used in many foods, snacks including drinks. You must learn how to read labels of every foods before you eat them.
Some of these foods are:
1. Certain soups and stews: Some soups and stews use thickeners that are made from cooked potatoes that are dried. Before buying any thickener, check the ingredients. If you are in a restaurant, you can ask the waiters if the soup or stew us thickened with potato flour.
2. Any food that is made with potato flour: Most manufacturers of prepackaged foods can use potato flour instead of wheat flour in making their products. You should check the package for the ingredients.
3. Candies and other wide range of products that are made with potato starch.
4. Vodka made with potato
5. Cheese that contains potato starch
6. Chips and fries
9. Pastas like gnocchi
WHAT CAN BE USED TO SUBSTITUTE POTATOES
If you are allergic to potatoes, there are other foods that you may use to replace potatoes.
These foods are:
1. Yuca which can be sliced and fried into chips, they can also be baked. In fact, Yuca is similar to potatoes, it is also a tuber but does not cause symptoms of allergies in potatoes.
2. Cauliflower can be steamed with spices and blended, the result looks like mash potatoes.
People who are allergic to regular potatoes can also experience reactions when they eat those foods that are from the same family as potatoes (nightshade family). The foods from this family all have glycoalkaloids. This may happen or not, it is not compulsory to react negatively to all these foods but the chances are there that you might.
Some of these foods are:
- Bell peppers
- Goji berries
- Pepino melon
- Chili peppers
WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DOCTOR
Whether your allergy reactions are mild or severe, you should see a doctor to prescribe medications that will relieve you of the discomfort and pain. Over-the-counter medications can be useful if your symptoms are skin itching, rashes and hives. Make sure you are always with your medications in case the symptoms spring up.
If you experience extreme symptoms or even anaphylaxis, your doctor will recommend that you always carry EpiPen, this self-injection can reduce the risk of your symptoms developing into more severe cases.
Most people have different foods that they are allergic to, yours may be potatoes. It is caused by your body’s immune system attacks on the proteins in the food. The reaction can be mild like sneezing, wheezing, itching, rashes to serious reactions like dizziness and fainting.
The best way to control these reactions is to stay away from peeling or eating potatoes, you should also check the ingredients on every product you buy or eat. There are other foods like avocado and yuca that can be used to replace potatoes in your diet.