Winter squash is indigenous to North America and was a staple in Native American diets. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, winter squash is grown between August and March, with peak season running during October and November. Winter squash is not commonly an allergenic food. However, there are preventive measures you can take and treatment available through a doctor if you suspect a winter squash allergy.
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WHFoods explains that winter squash is generally a tolerable food with a host of nutritional benefits that can help prevent heart disease, colon disease and lung cancer. A 1-cup serving of winter squash exceeds your daily necessary intake of vitamin A and also contains high levels of manganese, vitamin C, fiber and potassium. Other nutrients include vitamins B1, B3, B5 and B6, as well as copper and folate.
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the most common types of food allergy symptoms are external, thereby appearing on the skin in the form of rashes and hives. Your skin may also turn red and swell. A winter squash allergy can also cause tongue and mouth swelling. Diarrhea and vomiting can also occur in conjunction with respiratory ailments such as wheezing.
A severe winter squash allergy accompanied by a low tolerance to it can result in a more severe reaction. In some cases, the allergic reaction is so severe that your body rapidly enters into a state of shock. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that this reaction is better known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include wheezing, chest tightness, dizziness and unconsciousness. Failure to treat anaphylaxis can result in death.
WHFoods reports that winter squash is one of the least allergenic foods and does not contain high levels of purines and oxalates. Still, this does not rule out the possibility of a winter squash allergy, especially if you have allergies to other foods in the Cucurbitaceae family. Examples include melons and cucumbers. Once you have a reaction to any such food, do not eat other types in the Cucurbitaceae family until you receive testing and a diagnosis from a doctor. Some food allergies are even outgrown over time.
Avoiding winter squash and similar foods will reduce your chances of reaction if you have a winter squash allergy. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends that you receive a diagnosis from an allergist before taking any medications for food allergies. Skin prick tests and blood tests are conducted to see what allergens you react to. Severe reactions to the accidental consumption of winter squash can be treated by epinephrine shots at an emergency room. Frequent anaphylaxis to food allergies may prompt your doctor to prescribe epinephrine to you so that you can inject yourself as needed.