What are some grapefruit allergy symptoms?

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

Food allergies occur when the immune system identifies the proteins in a particular food as harmful to the body, subsequently reacting to try to "fight off" the "harmful" proteins (which are in fact harmless). Allergies to citrus fruits such as grapefruit are fairly common, though they are more common in adults than in children.

Some symptoms of a grapefruit allergy include:

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  • Itching or swelling of the mouth, tongue or lips
  • Skin reactions (eczema, hives, swelling and redness of the extremities or face)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Respiratory symptoms (runny or stuffy nose, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, difficulty breathing)
  • Cardiovascular symptoms (drop in blood pressure, lightheadedness, fainting)

If you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, which include nausea, vomiting, weak or rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, confusion and loss of consciousness, seek immediate medical attention, as this can be fatal.

Citrus allergy symptoms may occur from consuming a tiny amount of citrus fruit or fruit juice, or just from touching the peel or breathing in airborne particles of the fruit. Symptoms may appear immediately or several hours after coming into contact citrus fruit.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above after consuming or coming into contact with grapefruit you should see an allergist for a diagnosis and treatment. It is important to note that even if you do not have a grapefruit allergy, grapefruit can cause adverse reactions if you eat it or drink its juice it while taking certain medications. Some of the chemicals in grapefruit products can interfere with your ability to metabolize the medications, meaning that the medication will stay in your body for a longer period of time, building up to potentially dangerous levels. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist about interactions with grapefruit when you are prescribed a new medication.

 

 

Originally Published: Apr 12, 2011

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Grapefruit Allergy FAQ

Why am I allergic to fruit all of a sudden?
Allergies to citrus fruits are rare, but are far more common in adults than in children. Simply put, some allergies can have a late-in-life onset as the immune system changes. You may also be suffering from oral allergy syndrome, also known as a pollen-food allergy.
Is grapefruit considered a citrus fruit?
Yes, grapefruits are a citrus fruit, a class that also includes lemons, limes, oranges, clementines, and other hybrids and varieties.
Can you be allergic to just grapefruit?
If you're allergic to grapefruits, you're usually allergic to all citrus fruits. However, grapefruit can cause adverse reactions if you eat it or drink the juice while taking certain medications. The chemicals in grapefruits can interfere with your body's ability to metabolize the medications, meaning that the medication will stay in your body for a longer period of time, building up to potentially dangerous levels.
Why do citrus fruits make my lips tingle?
You likely have oral allergy syndrome (OAS), a pollen allergy that has symptoms including an itchy or tingling tongue or mouth, swollen or numb lips, a scratchy throat, and sneezing. In this allergy, the immune system recognizes the similarity between pollen (a common allergen) and the proteins in certain raw fruits.
How do you treat a citrus allergy?
The easiest step to take is to remove citrus from your diet. A skin prick test at an allergist's office can determine whether you have an actual allergy through a tiny needle prick that inserts a small amount of the suspected allergen.