Is It an Apple Allergy or a Pollen-Fruit Syndrome?
An apple is one of the most popular fruits all over the world. However, some people may be allergic to this fruit – a condition that can cause life-threatening reactions.
What Are the Symptoms of an Apple Allergy?
If you have an apple allergy, you will develop the reaction after eating both raw apples and foods based on apple (e.g. juices or smoothies). The symptoms, that range from mild to severe, usually appear soon after you consume an apple. Depending on the type of your allergy, you will experience various symptoms, including: itchiness in the throat or mouth, swelling of the lips and throat, upset stomach and abdominal cramps, skin rash or hives, as well as diarrhea.
In severe cases, people allergic to apples may develop anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that require an immediate injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) and further medical help. The symptoms of anaphylaxis often include: swelling in the mouth and throat, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, wheezing, nausea, low pulse, confusion.
What Are the Different Types of an Apple Allergy?
Allergy to foods, including apples, may occur in any person, no matter what age, ethnicity, or gender they are. However, the symptoms may vary depending on the type of allergy a person has.
Allergies to apple can be divided into two main categories: allergies triggered by a food protein and those caused by cross-reactivity, also known as oral allergy syndrome.
People with a food allergy to apple may develop severe symptoms soon after they eat even a small amount of an apple. Interestingly, apple allergies tend to be more common among people in the Mediterranean.
If you have an oral allergy syndrome, your reaction is triggered by proteins contains in the apple that are similar to those in birch tree pollen. Having hay fever and nasal allergies may increase your risk for an oral allergy syndrome. Thus, people with a birch tree pollen allergy may experience cross-reactivity when consuming apples.
The reactions resulting from an oral allergy syndrome are usually less serious compare to a food allergy. The symptoms mostly affect the mouth area.
This type of apple allergy is more common among older children, as well as people living in cooler climates where the levels of airborne birch tree pollen are higher. Besides, the symptoms may be more intense during the spring when birch tree pollen is at the peak.
Oral Allergy Syndrome Explained
Pollen is the most common trigger of seasonal allergies. If you have a pollen allergy, you may also develop symptoms like itchiness in the mouth and throat after eating certain fruits and vegetables, such as apples. This is why oral allergy syndrome is also called pollen-fruit syndrome.
According to experts, oral allergy syndrome is a mild form of food allergy triggered by a contact reaction in the mouth and throat. Thus, oral allergy syndrome is a result of coming into contact with an allergen, rather than actually eating it.
Depending on the type of pollen you are allergic to, you may cross-react to different foods. As mentioned earlier, a birch tree pollen is rather associated with an apple allergy. The symptoms of pollen-fruit syndrome may get worse during the spring, when seasonal allergies are common.
The symptoms of an oral allergy syndrome are usually limited to the are of the mouth and throat. Normally, these symptoms are mild, but they may get severe, in some cases. Some of the most common symptoms caused by an oral allergy syndrome include: itchiness in the mouth and throat, swelling of the lips, mouth, or tongue, itching and swelling of the throat, and itchiness in the eyes.
Apart from apples, an oral allergy syndrome can be triggered by various foods that share similar proteins with pollen produced by birch tree, ragweed, and grass. These foods include: almonds, sunflower seeds, cherries, peaches, plums, melons, oranges, kiwi, banana, pears, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, celery, etc. If you are allergies to apples, you may also want to avoid these foods.
How to Diagnose an Apple Allergy?
If you think that you may have an allergy to apple, you should arrange a visit to an allergist.
Based on several factors, such as the severity of your symptoms, your medical history, family history of allergies, as well as allergy testing, the doctor will provide you with a proper diagnosis.
There are different types of allergy tests, including blood tests, skin prick tests, or food challenges. Each of these types has its pros and cons. For example, blood testing that determine the levels of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies helps to identify the risk of an anaphylactic reaction to a food, but it’s not very useful when it comes to diagnosing oral allergy syndrome.
How Do You Treat Allergies to Apple?
The best way to prevent the symptoms of an apple allergy is to avoid apples in your diet. Some people with oral allergy syndrome may be still eat cooked apples without having a reaction, since cooking helps to break down the allergenic proteins in the fruit.
You can also reduce the symptoms using antihistamines. Consult with your doctor to determine the best allergy treatment for you.
The Bottom Line
If you are allergic to apples, you may want to avoid eating this fruit, at least in the raw form, if you have an oral allergy syndrome. Apple is a common ingredient in many food products. Therefore, when doing groceries, make sure to read the ingredients labels of foods you want to buy.
If you have a history of anaphylactic reaction to an apple, your doctor may recommend that you carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you.