Can you have an apple allergy? The simple answer is that true apple allergies are rare, involving less than 2% of the population, but they do happen. The allergens in apples change when heated so the allergy is usually only to fresh fruit. The body doesn’t recognize it as a problem when cooked. Cooked apples such as applesauce or stuffing are usually not a problem for the otherwise allergic person.
Basic allergy symptoms will appear shortly after exposure to the apple. Some people even start reacting while preparing one for eating. Watery eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing are usually the first to appear. Itching and swelling of tongue, lips and gums appear once the person has started to eat the apple. Some people go on to have digestive symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Other people can develop skin reactions such as a rash or hives. They will usually form around the mouth and lips but can appear anywhere on the body.
Dangerous swelling that makes it hard to breath can occur but is rare. This condition, known as anaphylaxis, not only involves breathing but also makes blood pressure drop dangerously. If you are worried this is starting to happen, you need to seek medical care immediately.
Apple Allergy Symptoms and Oral Allergy Syndrome
Applesare most often involved in oral allergy syndrome. This syndrome is a cross reaction between pollens and food proteins that are very similar. Apples are in a group with birch pollen, almonds, carrots, celery, cherries, hazelnuts, kiwi, peaches, pears, and plums. Up to 90% of people with birch pollen allergy will report being allergic to this fruit.
The immune system mounts an allergic reaction to both the pollen and a protein in the food, because they are so close in form to each other. Usually reaction is only to the raw fruit. Cooking it will distort the food’s protein allergen so that the immune system cannot recognize it.
This syndrome usually shows up suddenly in an older child or adult who has eaten apples in the past without any difficulties. Usually symptoms are limited to the mouth and throat. The person may experience irritation, itching or swelling. Blisters could form in the mouth or around the lips. Every once in a while, ears will feel itchy.
If the reaction progresses beyond the mouth area there is a risk for anaphylaxis, a very serious allergic reaction that requires medical care. You should consult with an allergist.
Babies and children
Babies and young children can express a dislike for apples. Adults may take this to mean they are picky eaters. Instead, the child may be experiencing an unpleasant sensation, such as an itchy mouth, when eating apples. They are only trying to avoid repeating that experience.
Babies and children can also show further signs of allergic reaction to apples such as skin rashes or hives.
Most people will choose to avoid raw apples. Usually it is not too difficult unless there is hidden puree in something unexpected. If you can eat cooked apples you will have to consider having others do the cooking so that you do not have to handle it raw.
Desensitization has been used for some people with apple allergies. It is more often done for those with oral allergy syndrome. Desensitization to birch pollen will help decrease the reaction to this specific fruit also.
Most apple allergies involve oral allergy syndrome. They can appear without warning in someone who has eaten apples in the past without difficulty. Babies who don’t like them, may be expressing a dislike to an unpleasant reaction they feel, but cannot express, when given this fruit. Desensitization to birch pollen may help decrease the allergy to apples.