Why Does a Kiwi Allergy Occur?
Kiwi, also known as kiwifruit, is a berry that originally comes from China. There are various species of kiwis, and all of them contain a lot of the antioxidant vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Due to its nutritional content, kiwi can provide great health benefits. However, some people may develop a kiwi allergy, which has been getting more common recently.
An allergy to kiwi is a result of the dysfunction in the immune system. The symptoms of an allergic reaction may be different in different people. If you experience any abnormal symptoms after eating a kiwi, you may want to visit an allergist who will perform allergy testing to see what’s causing your symptoms.
If you have a kiwi allergy, you may also be allergic to some other foods and non-food products.
What Are the Symptoms of a Kiwi Allergy?
A person with a kiwi allergy may first develop mild symptoms. However, after repeated exposure to the trigger, these symptoms may become more severe and even life-threatening.
Mild symptoms of a reaction to kiwi may include (but are not limited to) skin rash, itching and tingling in the lips, mouth, tongue and throat. These symptoms are usually referred to as oral allergy syndrome (OAS). Oral allergy syndrome can be triggered by fruits, pollen, dust and animal dander.
Severe symptoms of kiwi allergies include: tingling and swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, low blood pressure, tachycardia, dizziness, and fainting. Anaphylaxis is rare but possible. If you experience the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction, seek for immediate medical help.
Potential Sources of a Kiwi Allergy Trigger
There are various species of kiwi, and allergic reactions to each one may be different in symptoms and severity. The most common sort of kiwi is the Hayward kiwi Actinidia deliciosa.
All the varieties of kiwi should be avoided, if you have an allergy to this fruit. Typically, kiwi is found in tropical fruits salads, juices and smoothies, granola and dry fruit mixes, fruit-based sorbets and ice creams, etc. Other products that may contain kiwi include baked goods, cakes, and bread.
For people with food allergies, it is especially important to check the ingredients labels on the foods they are buying. If you are not sure about the ingredients of a food product, you can also contact the manufacturer and ask all you need to know.
When eating out, always inform the restaurant staff about your allergy and make sure your meal is prepared without any contact with kiwis.
What Is Your Kiwi Allergy Caused by?
In case of an allergy, the immune system of the body overreacts to substances that are normally harmless. When an allergic protein gets into the body, the immune system releases histamine and produces antibodies to attack the “invader”. Histamine is a chemical responsible for many allergy symptoms.
Interestingly, kiwi contains the allergen that is similar to those found in other substances, meaning that an allergy to kiwi may increase the risk of reacting to other foods, plants, etc.
Thus, people allergic to kiwis are likely to develop cross-reactions to food and non-food substances, including: hazelnuts, avocados, olives, bananas, melons, peaches, papayas, pineapples, apples, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, wheat, rye, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, as well as Japanese cedar, meadow fescue, tree pollen (especially, birch tree pollen), and latex.
These cross-reactions can be explained by the fact that kiwi is associated with pollen-fruit and latex-fruit syndromes.
Does a Kiwi Allergy Affect Children?
If you are weaning your child, you should be careful with introducing the most common food allergens like milk, eggs, nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. While kiwi is not a common food allergen, there is also a chance of being allergic to kiwi.
Children are at a higher risk of a kiwi allergy. While the first even exposure of a child to the fruit may not lead to any reaction, the symptoms may be quite serious the second time. In fact, the body usually doesn’t develop any symptoms when a person consumes the trigger food for the first time.
The reaction occurs when the immune system is triggered by a repeated introduction of the food. This is why a child will only experience the symptoms after the second time of eating the food.
The symptoms of an allergic reaction to kiwi in children can vary from mild to severe. Most common symptoms include: red and scaly patches of skin, rash or hives, irritability, excessive crying, and trouble breathing. In addition, children may experience digestive symptoms like bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea.
If you notice that your baby develops abnormal symptoms after eating the fruit, you should visit a doctor.
How Is a Kiwi Allergy Diagnosed?
If you develop any abnormal symptoms after eating a kiwi, you may want to arrange a visit to a specialist. The doctor may recommend that you use antihistamines or an epinephrine (adrenaline) auto-injector, if your reaction is severe.
The first signs of a severe reaction like anaphylaxis include tingling or prickly sensations in the mouth and throat that develop soon after exposure to kiwi.
The Bottom Line
A kiwi allergy is a rare condition, and it may be difficult to identify, since the symptoms are similar to many other food allergies. In order to avoid the allergic reactions, you should avoid the exposure to kiwifruit. You can reduce the symptoms using antihistamines, or epinephrine injection, in case of an anaphylactic reaction.
If you suspect having an allergy to kiwi, you should see an allergist. The doctor will help to determine the exact cause of your symptoms and design a special treatment plan for you.