An allergy to citrus fruits is considered as an overstated response of the immune system due to the presence of citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. Even though an allergy to citrus fruit usually occurs in older children and young adults, the allergy can develop at any age. Since the symptoms can be severe and oftentimes life-threatening, it is vital to fully understand what causes citrus fruit allergy and the measures to manage it. If you want to learn more about this type of allergy, click here.
Causes of citrus fruit allergies
The protein, specifically profilins are present in citrus fruits. This protein is responsible for causing an allergic reaction to citrus fruits. In some individuals, the immune system will not recognize profilin as food but mistakes it as a threat to the body, thus releasing antibodies, histamine and other chemicals to fight it off.
This immune system reaction instigates the symptoms that manifest during an allergic reaction to citrus fruits. The symptoms are oftentimes initiated by a condition known as oral allergy syndrome which can be mistaken as an allergy to citrus fruits. In this condition, the immune system reacts to the proteins and pollen present in raw oranges.
What are the symptoms?
When it comes to an allergic reaction to citrus fruits, they can manifest in a span of a few minutes after consuming or touching the fruit. It can oftentimes take up to 2 hours for the symptoms to develop. The symptoms of an allergic response include redness or itchiness around the mouth, nose or eyes, hoarse voice, swelling of the lips or tongue, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, lightheadedness, nausea, stomach cramps, difficulty swallowing, nasal congestion and vomiting.
Management of citrus allergy
A doctor must be consulted if the individual experiences an allergic reaction to citrus fruits. The doctor will perform a skin prick test to confirm a diagnosis. In most cases, the doctor will prescribe an over-the-counter antihistamine to help minimize the itchiness, swelling and redness. There are also skin creams that can provide a soothing effect as well as minimize the topical symptoms. The best way to prevent future reactions to citrus fruits is to avoid eating any type of citrus fruit.
Important tips to bear in mind
The individual should take time to read the food labels carefully. It is important to note that citrus fruits are usually hidden in various products such as teas, baked goods, flavored drinks, medications, cereals and beauty products. Additionally, extracts and citrus fruit peels are also capable of triggering allergic reactions.
When avoiding citrus fruits, vitamin C can be taken from other sources such as red pepper, cantaloupe, spinach, mango, blueberries and broccoli. It is important to call for emergency assistance if the individual experiences breathing difficulty or wheezing after eating citrus fruits. Take note these symptoms indicate a severe reaction called as anaphylaxis.