Although not as common as gluten or peanut allergy, corn allergy is far more difficult to manage as there is a wide range of products made with corn or corn derivates. Those with a corn allergy often do not even know that they are allergic to corn because symptoms such as swelling, headache, stomach problems, and skin rashes may be attributed to other medical conditions. Even using skin care lotions and shampoos with corn derivatives can cause an allergic reaction.
An allergist may use skin tests or a blood test to determine whether a person is suffering from an allergy. Using a lancet, a small amount of the allergen, in this case corn extracts, may dropped on scratched skin to start a reaction. An adhesive patch with allergens is stuck to the skin for a specified period of time to study the reaction of the body. Corn allergy tests could include blood tests to study immunoglobin E levels to confirm the diagnosis.
The allergy occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly identifies corn proteins as invading bacteria and goes into defensive mode, releasing histamines to fight the perceived infection. Avoiding the ingestion of products with corn, corn starch, or corn-based sweeteners is the best way to prevent an allergic reaction. Corn allergy causes may not always be in the food ingested. Corn based ingredients are used to make toothpaste, perfumes, and shampoos too.
Reading the list of ingredients in a product may not always be helpful because you need to know that the citric acid listed there is actually made with corn or that the vitamin D or E enriched vegetable oil used contains corn used in the manufacture of the vitamin. Even the gum used to seal tea bags is corn based and so is the sweetener used in chewing gum and breath mints.
Fortified foods such as cereals, vegetable oils, and flours, all use corn derived nutrients that are synthetically derived. Eating whole foods where the nutrients are present in their natural form is a better alternative. Eggs from corn fed chickens may cause allergy in some people with corn allergy.
Corn allergy symptoms may appear within a short time after eating corn or maize products, starting with an itch in the mouth, swelling in the throat, and difficulty in swallowing and hoarseness. Skin rashes, itching, sinus problems, headache, joint pains, and gastrointestinal problems are some of the other symptoms that people with a corn allergy report. A more serious and rapidly setting symptom is anaphylactic shock, resulting from the inflammation of the respiratory organs and falling blood pressure.
Corn allergy is difficult to diagnose because corn products are often not listed with the ingredients as corn. Even binders used in the manufacture of vitamins and supplements may be corn byproducts. Iodized salt often contains dextrose, which is made from corn. Enriched flour, baking powder, cereals, and snack bars all contain corn-based ingredients that may trigger allergy symptoms in those with corn allergy.
Corn allergy treatment is similar to other allergy treatments in the sense that anti-histamines are prescribed to alleviate the symptoms. The symptoms like skin rashes usually fade when the allergens pass out of the body. Careful choice of food and drink is vital for those with corn allergies. Processed foods usually contain one or more ingredients that are derived from corn, from fructose in jams and juices to salt in ketchup and sauces. Even organic food with edible wax coating may not be corn-free as the edible wax is derived from corn starch. Fast food, sodas, pastries, and snack bars are best avoided as corn is a major source of the ingredients that go into making them. Salt in frozen vegetables may contain corn derivatives, unless sea salt is used. Vitamins used to fortify milk are derived from corn and enzymes used to ferment cheese may be also corn based.
Unsalted nuts, fresh vegetables, and fruits, plain yoghurt, grass-fed fresh meat, and fresh sea food are some of the choices available to those who are on the lookout for corn-free food. Farm fresh eggs are better than super market eggs because the latter may be washed in cornstarch. Vegetable and fruit juices with citric or ascorbic acid may not be suitable for those with corn allergies. Cornstarch is also used in the process of vacuum packing food products. Polysorbate and sodium citrate in cleaning solutions may be corn based and even fabric softeners and toilet paper may contain corn based chemicals. One of the major advantages of having a corn allergy is that people with the allergy actually end up eating healthy fresh food and losing weight because they are forced to avoid fast food, processed and frozen foods, most sweetened and fattening dairy products and soft drinks.