Allergic reactions to bell peppers are rare, but potentially serious. About four percent of adults and a little more than five percent of children have some kind of food allergy. A specific bell pepper allergy exists in less than one percent of the population. In minor cases, symptoms of a bell pepper allergy are limited to itchiness and skin rashes. However, in severe cases it can lead to a serious reaction called anaphylaxis which can be lethal if left untreated.
An allergic reaction to bell peppers or foods that contain them occurs when the body treats some components of the food as it would an infection or some other foreign invader. Within an hour or two of consuming bell peppers, an allergic reaction begins to develop.
The Mayo Clinic reports a number of symptoms that can occur when the body experiences an allergic reaction to food. In mild reactions, symptoms of a bell pepper allergy can include swelling of the mouth or lips, hives or another type of skin rash, itching, and digestive unease including bloating and diarrhea.
In severe allergic reactions to bell peppers, in addition to the aforementioned symptoms, anaphylaxis can develop. When anaphylaxis occurs, symptoms can include difficulty breathing, fainting, and an increase in pulse coupled with a drop in blood pressure leading to shock. Anaphylaxis leads to as many as 30,000 emergency room visits and more than a hundred deaths per year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When signs of anaphylaxis develop, treatment should be obtained immediately.
To prevent severe allergic reactions to bell peppers, those who are allergic should always keep an allergy inhibitor on hand. Epinephrine injectors like the EpiPen are commonly used interventions to counteract severe allergic reactions. Epinephrine can slow or even eliminate the reaction altogether, normalizing breathing, swelling, and blood pressure. Even after using an epinephrine injection, medical attention should still be sought to prevent the reaction from rebounding.
In minor allergic reactions to bell peppers, antihistamines can be effective at easing swelling and congestion. People with a known bell pepper allergy should carry antihistamines or an epinephrine injector at all times. This goes not just for bell peppers, but for any food allergy. Disastrous results are in the minority, but a danger does exist and food allergies should be treated with safety. Always talk to your doctor before choosing any treatment.
An allergic reaction to bell peppers can often actually be traced back to an allergy to latex. Many of the proteins that are found in latex also exist in bell peppers and a number of other foods. As such, when a person with a latex allergy eats bell peppers, they may experience skin irritation, nausea, and other reactions.
Several foods are associated with reactions that result from a latex allergy; along with bell peppers, all types of peppers, bananas, strawberries, avocados, tomatoes, and a number of other fruits and vegetables have been associated with reactions related to a latex allergy. The Better Health Channel of Australia estimates that allergic reactions to these foods occur in about half of all people with latex allergies.
Bell pepper allergies are rare, but sufferers should not take them lightly. Within a few minutes and a couple of hours of eating bell peppers, in people with a bell pepper allergy or latex allergy can experience symptoms ranging from the mild to the severe. Sufferers of any food allergy should keep emergency treatments on hand to prevent complications including difficulty breathing and shock. Any questions about allergic reactions to bell peppers, latex allergy, and how to deal with a food allergy should be directed to an individuals’ doctor.