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Maize or corn is one of the most important grains that can be cooked, roasted, ground or pounded to prepare a variety of staple meals in Africa and in particular Nigeria. Boiled or roasted, corn is a common Nigerian snack and roadside meal. It is a movie-goer’s favourite snack when it is popped, and a common ingredient in processed foods.
Boiled or roasted maize is often served with fresh coconut. The combination is very tasty and quite filling. Maize is one of the cheapest and delicious snacks which enjoy a great deal of patronage from all, irrespective of class, status or age each time it is in season.
With its popularity, corn might seem to provide instant snack for everyone, but in some cases, corn adversely affects people and wreaks havoc on their bodies. Although it provides vitamin and antioxidant, some people rarely eat corn to prevent painful hives, cough, trouble swallowing or even runny nose or catarrh, all indicators of an allergic reaction.
Unfortunately, some people still eat maize without linking it to sneezing, catarrh, stomach cramping and digestive problems that develop afterwards.
Corn allergies are becoming more common, although not as much as allergies due to food items such as wheat, dairy, soy, peanut, shellfish, fish and egg. Similar to these other foods, a corn allergy may manifest in hives (rashes) and severe allergic reactions, or may manifest in breathing difficulty, headaches, trouble swallowing and stomach aches.
Mr Jide Ajayi, a journalist recounting his experience, stated that he had to stop eating boiled corn because it usually makes him itchy in the mouth and have hive.
According to him, oftentimes, after eating corn, he feels heavy and had to stop its consumption.
Although, Mr Ajayi takes boiled corn, the case is different from Mrs Catherine Haruna, a school teacher who consumes only roasted maize to prevent an attendant constipation.
As with other allergic reactions, the immune system mistakes corn proteins for an infection or as harmful. Allergy symptoms arise as side effects of the body’s release of histamines meant to halt the nonexistent infection. This immune system response will occur whenever antibodies it has formed encounter the corn protein, whether in its original state or corn-based products.
Dr Soji Ige, a consultant physician, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan reaffirmed that with new corn in season, many people experience allergic symptoms such as hives, coughing, runny nose, wheezing and trouble in swallowing.
According to him, due to possibility of allergic reactions, individuals with allergy asthma are warned against consumption of fresh maize.
Dr Ige stated: “The maize tends to cause histamine release. Histamine is a potent broncho-dilatory agent. And the major problem in allergy asthma is that the mast cells tend to release their content, thus causing the narrowing of the airway and subsequently asthmatic attack.”
Meanwhile, some individuals that are not asthmatic soon after eating corn feel itching in the mouth. This may progress to swelling, which can cause painful hives or difficult swallowing. Unfortunately, he added that “some people can have allergy, without asthma while some people will have both an allergy and asthma. Some people also develop seasonal or perennial allergy.”
In order to avoid an allergic reaction, Dr Ige stated that it was better abstaining from the consumption of fresh maize. “Abstain from food items that one is allergic to is better, because it can precipitate severe asthmatic attack and even death. Even in those that are not asthmatic, it can precipitate runny nose and the entire spectrum of allergic reactions,” he said.
The mainstay of treatment for food allergy is avoidance of foods that have been identified as allergens. For people who are extremely sensitive, this may involve the total avoidance of any exposure with the allergen, including touching or inhaling the problematic food as well as touching any surface that may have come in contact with it.
If the food is accidentally ingested and a systemic reaction (anaphylaxis) occurs, the person needs to be taken to the hospital, where proper action may be taken. There are treatments for an allergic reaction. Treatments include: epinephrine, antihistamines, and steroids.
Corn allergies are becoming common. The best way to determine whether an individual has a corn allergy is to undergo an allergy test. Guessing whether the symptoms are caused by corn or not could be dangerous!
Corn allergy symptoms unfold at the rate of allergen ingestion and it spreads through the body via the bloodstream. The symptoms are usually spontananeous or could be delayed for a few hours without lingering effects. In rare instances, however, this natural progression may be interrupted at any time by anaphylaxis, a swiftly developed set of symptoms that can create life-threatening shock. Anaphylactic reactions can cause patients to lose consciousness and organ function.Share
written by Vanessa, July 17, 2012
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