What Should You Know About Watermelon Allergy?
A watermelon allergy is a rare type of food allergy. It is more likely to affect children, but adults can also be allergic to this food.
The symptoms of a reaction to watermelon are similar to those triggered by other food allergens.
A person allergic to watermelons may also react to a number of additional foods. In order to identify all food products triggering your allergy, you should visit a doctor and undergo special allergy testing.
What Are the Symptoms of a Watermelon Allergy?
The symptoms of a watermelon allergy can range from mild to severe. If you have an allergy to watermelon, you will develop a reaction every time you are exposed to this food. Usually, it takes about a few minutes for the symptoms to occur.
People allergic to watermelon usually experience symptoms like coughing, itchy throat or tongue, hives, stomach pain, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
In case of a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, the symptoms can be life-threatening. They may include: swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, breath shortness, wheezing, severely low blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.
If you develop any of these symptoms, you should seek for an emergency medical help. The treatment involves an immediate injection of epinephrine and a follow-up care.
If you notice abnormal symptoms caused by watermelon for the first time, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Getting a proper diagnosis can help to keep allergies under control.
How to Diagnose a Watermelon Allergy?
In most cases, an allergy to watermelon is diagnosed based on a skin prick test. In this test, a doctor pricks the surface of your skin and places a tiny amount of watermelon allergen on the pricked area. If you are allergic, you will develop a red, itchy bump on this area within a few minutes.
Another way to identify an allergy to watermelon is to perform a blood test. This test measures the levels of specific antibodies in your blood. However, according to experts, the test results can sometimes be positive in people who don’t react to the food.
A challenge test can also help to determine whether you are allergic or not. This test involves eating a small amount of the suspected food allergen. Such a test should only be performed under close monitoring of a specialist.
How to Control an Allergy to Watermelon?
The best way to keep a food allergy under control is to avoid the allergy-inducing foods. When eating out, make sure to inform your waiter about any food allergy you have.
Usually, an over-the-counter medication (e.g. antihistamine) can help to reduce mild allergy symptoms.
However, OTC drugs won’t help to treat a severe reaction. If you notice any symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should use an epinephrine auto-injector immediately.
If someone around you develops an anaphylactic reaction, you should call emergency help immediately. If a person has an epinephrine auto-injector, help them use the device. Make sure a person remains calm. Help them remove any restricting clothes, especially around the throat. Laying the person flat can help, and it’s better to elevate their feet. In case the person starts to vomit, don’t raise their head, just turn it a little. You can also perform CPR, if needed.
Drinking or eating will likely worsen the symptoms, so don’t offer food or beverages to a person affected by anaphylaxis.
If you have a history of anaphylaxis, your doctor should prescribe you an epinephrine auto-injector.
When Should You Inform Your Doctor?
If you experience an allergic reaction to watermelon for the first time, you should talk to your doctor as soon as possible.
Based on your symptoms and medical history (as well as family history of food allergies), the doctor can make a diagnosis. If needed, you may be referred to an allergist-immunologist, who specializes in allergies.
A specialist may want to perform certain tests or prescribe you an epinephrine auto-injector or other medications.
Why Are Children at a Higher Risk?
Both adults and children may develop an allergy to watermelon, but it is more common among kids.
The diagnosis and treatment methods are usually similar for people of all ages.
In rare cases, babies can also react to watermelon. If your child has the symptoms of an allergic reaction, consult your doctor. Remember that you should introduce new foods gradually, to be able to identify allergies better.
Which Additional Foods Should You Avoid?
If you are allergic to watermelon, you may also need to avoid foods like honeydew melons, cucumbers, and cantaloupes.
Similar reaction in the body may also be triggered by certain fruits and vegetables, including: kiwis, peaches, oranges, bananas, papayas, celery, tomatoes, zucchini, and avocados.
People with watermelon allergy can also react to ragweed pollen during the summer months.
The Bottom Line
An allergy to watermelon is rare, but people affect by this condition can experience severe reactions. This type of food allergy is more likely to affect children.
Avoiding watermelon and other potential triggers is the best way to control the condition. Some over-the-counter medications can help to treat mild symptoms.
A severe reaction requires an immediate treatment, involving an injection of epinephrine and a follow-up medical care.