Citrus fruits contain many nutrients. They are rich in vitamin C and is a good source of sugars, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. Many doctors suggest citrus fruits as a must-take inclusion in the diet. These colorful and delicious fruits include oranges, limes, clementines, tangelos, lemons, grapefruits, mandarins, Satsuma and pummelos. As they are acid fruits, they cause citrus allergy in some people. Do you want to know more about citrus allergy? If yes, this article will help you.
Difference between citrus allergy and citrus intolerance
People who experience allergy to citrus fruits show allergic reactions to other products that contain citrus acid. Many foods, drug, beverages and skin care products contain citrus extracts, oils, citric acid preservatives such as potassium citrate and sodium citrate. We may confuse citrus allergy with citrus intolerance. Citrus intolerance occurs when your body cannot digest citric acid that is present in citrus fruits and other products. Citrus allergy is caused when your immune system wrongly considers the proteins found in citrus fruit as harmful to your body and reacts against it. As a result, the body releases histamines, which causes allergic reactions.
Citrus allergy generally occurs immediately after eating the fruit. But, the symptoms of citrus intolerance appear after some time. Only a small amount of citrus is enough to trigger citrus allergy. But, citrus intolerance depends upon the amount of food eaten.
Symptoms of citrus allergy
Itching and swelling: As a result of the body’s inflammatory response to the allergens in citrus fruits, the allergic person may experience itching and swelling within few minutes of the ingesting the citrus containing food products. The itching and swelling appear on the lips, tongue, throat, mouth, face, eyes, eyelids and other skin areas. Swelling in airways causes breathing problems.
Skin rash and hives: Swelling on the skin results in the formation of itchy and hot rashes and hives. The hives develop when your body releases histamines into the bloodstream due to the contact with an allergen.
Gastrointestinal problems: Citrus allergy negatively affects the digestive system with several unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms, which begin with nausea, include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain and abdominal cramps.
Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis, the most severe allergy symptom affects many organs with numerous symptoms such as wheezing, lightheadedness, abnormal pulse and loss of consciousness.
Treatment for citrus allergy
Even though citrus allergy is rare, it may cause some serious symptoms. So, if you feel you are allergic to citrus, consulting a doctor is advisable. For mild symptoms, antihistamines can be used. For common allergy symptoms like skin rashes, doctors suggest topical creams and lotions with corticosteroids. In case of respiratory problems such as asthma attacks, bronchodilators are very effective. Anaphylaxis is the serious symptom caused by citrus allergy and an injection of epinephrine can be applied as a temporary relief. However, the patient needs urgent medical attention for detailed treatment.
Tips to prevent citrus allergy
Citrus allergy can be prevented completely only by the total avoidance of citrus fruits. You have to read the labels of food products before eating them to know whether they contain citrus fruits. If you are eating outside, ask about the ingredients and confirm that your food is citrus-free. You should be aware of the cross-contamination. For example, citrus may be mixed in fruit cocktails. If you are severely allergic to citrus, carry an epinephrine injection while travelling. You can apply it, when you accidentally ingest citrus fruits. If you are so crazy about citrus fruits and you cannot avoid eating them, at least, peel off the skin to reduce the chance of being allergic. Raw fruits are less allergic than ripe fruits.
You can easily recognize the symptoms of citrus allergy. As they are limited to, only few fruits of the citrus family, the allergy can be easily identified and treated.