Fresh avocados are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which protect you from various diseases and disorders. But sometimes, avocados can trigger an allergic reaction. If your immune system reacts adversely towards the avocado, considering it as a harmful substance, then you are said to have avocado intolerance or avocado allergy. Presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies and histamine in your bloodstream, after consumption of an avocado, confirms that you are allergic to avocado. The symptoms may vary from person to person. If a person is allergic to birch pollen or if he/she has been diagnosed with latex allergy, then he/she is likely to suffer from an avocado allergy. Here is an overview of the symptoms.
Avocado Allergy Symptoms in Adults
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, less than 2% of the U.S. adults suffer from food allergies and less than 10% of the total food allergy cases are due to avocado allergy. This type of allergy may be rare, but possibility of 'anaphylaxis' (severe allergic reaction) cannot be overlooked. So it is necessary to know the avocado food allergy symptoms. The symptoms may show up immediately after the ingestion of an avocado or after a few hours.
- Nausea: Consumption of an avocado may result in nausea and discomfort.
- Vomiting: Nausea may be followed by vomiting, as the body will try to throw away the food that is responsible for the allergy.
- Headache: One may suffer from sinus pain, lightheadedness, disturbed sleep, and mild to severe headache after consuming foods containing avocado.
- Watery Eyes: You may experience itchiness in the eyes and the eyes may turn red. There can be swelling in the eyelids and sore eyes may lead to discomfort.
- Runny Nose: Consumption of avocado may result in constant watery discharge from the nose.
- Sneezing: Some people may experience nasal blockage and/or excessive sneezing.
- Stomach Pain: The person who has avocado allergy may suffer from mild to severe abdominal pain, stomach cramps, etc., once the ingested avocado reaches his/her stomach.
- Diarrhea/Constipation: An upset stomach may lead to constipation or diarrhea. As the avocado reaches stomach and intestines, the body reacts adversely.
- Itching: As histamines are produced and poured into the bloodstream, one may experience itching sensation all over the body or around the mouth and lips.
- Tingling Mouth: Itchy or tingling mouth is one of the most common symptoms of food allergy.
- Lip Swelling: The first obvious reaction in case of an avocado allergy would be swollen lips. Redness around the lips or tingling sensation in the lips may be experienced. Histamines in the bloodstream are responsible for the inflammatory response of the body. Along with the lips, the face and eyelids may also swell and result in severe discomfort.
- Tongue Swelling: Not only the lips but the tongue may also swell. Eating may seem difficult then.
- Throat Swelling: Swollen throat may result in problem of swallowing. Even drinking water may lead to pain and discomfort. Drinking lukewarm water or herbal tea or clear soup slowly, may help relieve the pain.
- Skin Rash: Common symptoms of avocado allergy include flushing of skin, swelling in the face or swelling around the lips. Swelling may progress from the face to the entire body. The skin may appear red and scaly. Symptoms of eczema or hives (if they appear) need prompt medical attention.
- Asthma: Avocado allergy symptoms may be similar to the symptoms of asthma (wheezing, shortness of breath, etc.). Moreover, those diagnosed with asthma are more likely to suffer from an avocado allergy.
- Cough: Throat irritation may lead to excessive coughing. Hoarseness or loss of voice may also be seen in severe cases.
- Wheezing: Breathing difficulty and wheezing are some of the severe symptoms of avocado allergy.
- Anaphylaxis: A very severe reaction to avocado can result in anaphylactic shock which can even prove to be fatal in some worst cases. Rapid development of worsening symptoms is noticed during anaphylaxis. A severe over-reaction of the immune system leads to the production of certain chemical substances including histamines which may result in sudden drop in blood pressure levels, rapid inflammation and itching of tissues, choking of windpipe, increased heart rate, breathing difficulty, development of hives and loss of consciousness. In case of such a severe reaction, one should call 911 for immediate medical help.
Infant Avocado Allergy
Babies diagnosed with latex allergy or asthma are likely to suffer from an avocado allergy. The substances called 'chitinases' present in avocados exhibit characteristic properties that are associated with the latex/fruit allergy syndrome. Sometimes, farmers treat the avocados with ethylene gas so that they ripen more quickly. Such avocados are likely to contain a high amount of 'chitinases', but avocados grown in an organic manner do not contain 'chitinases'.
Parents should take proper precautions while preparing the food for their baby. They should not include avocado in the regular diet of the baby, if the baby is diagnosed with latex allergy. They should consult the doctor before introducing avocado and other fruits with similar properties. The allergen can be inactivated by heating. So cooked avocado may not trigger an allergic reaction. Cinnamon, a related plant, and fruits like bananas, melons, mango, chestnuts, and kiwis may also trigger an allergic reaction.
Avocado allergy symptoms in babies may include skin rash, swollen lips, tongue and throat, watery eyes, runny nose, stomach pain, diarrhea, increased irritability, etc. Babies may even suffer from shortness of breath and anaphylaxis and so the symptoms should not be overlooked. If parents notice any of the above symptoms, they should immediately rush to the nearest medical center.
If the allergy syndrome is associated with birch pollen, then symptoms are usually limited to itching and swelling of the mouth, lips and throat. It would not lead to a systemic type reaction and would not exhibit symptoms like stomach pain, vomiting, skin hives and anaphylaxis. Those who are diagnosed with latex allergy or pollen allergy should avoid fruits like avocado and other foods belonging to the same category. Avoidance is a good way of staying away from life-threatening symptoms like anaphylaxis.
Always check the labels of the products and menu cards in the restaurants for the ingredients. Before opting for avocado face mask, hair mask and avocado oil for hair and skin, you should undergo an allergy test. Use of avocado oil in foods and cosmetics (soaps and lotions) is increasing day by day. So those diagnosed with avocado allergy should select cosmetics cautiously.