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July 30, 2021

Latex and Avocado Allergies: How They Are Related

Americans love avocados. They are loaded with the healthy fats we need to stay strong, and they taste great with a wide variety of foods. Avocado consumption in the United States has doubled in the last ten years.  In fact, Americans eat an average of 8 pounds of avocado per capita.  That means, if you have never eaten an avocado, someone else is eating your 8 pounds.  As their popularity and availability in grocery stores has grown, more new people are moving out of their food-comfort zones and giving avocados a try. With easy access to any new food or product comes increased chances that someone will develop an allergy.  In fact, people have developed not one, but two closely related, but different, types of allergies: an Avocado Oral Allergy Syndrome and an Avocado Cross-Reactivity with Latex Syndrome.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Have you ever heard the phrase “Oral Allergy Syndrome”?  Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS) is the technical term for Oral Allergy Syndrome.  Both refer to cross-reacting allergens found in the pollens of plants we eat—fruit, vegetables, and nuts.

Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are just like other plants and trees.  They pollinate and they need pollinators.  Pollinators such as bees, insects, birds, etc., will collect pollen from various plant sources and leave them on other plants.  This cross-pollinating has been known to trigger cross-reactivity in people with sensitivities or allergies to one type of pollen with another they may have not had problems with before.  

If you are allergic to any tree or plant pollens, you could develop allergies or sensitivities to a variety of healthy foods that are a grown near those trees or plants.  As an example, some of the symptoms of an oral allergy to avocados may be throat and mouth tingling or swelling.  In extreme cases, severe respiratory difficulties and even anaphylaxis may occur.

Cross-Reactivity with Latex

The second allergy is more common with people who are allergic to latex.  Avocados naturally produce small quantities of latex and are thus cross-reactive with latex products and foods.   Studies show those with a latex allergy are also often allergic to many fruits in addition to avocado, such as apples, melons, kiwis, carrots, tomato, potato, and bananas. 

This cross-reactivity can create a condition known as latex-fruit syndrome. Not everyone who has a latex allergy will be allergic to avocado. Nevertheless, up to 50% of people with latex allergies will be sensitive to them or another similar type of fruit. 

The Symptoms of Avocado Allergy

If you have an allergy to avocados but not to manufactured latex products, your symptoms will be more like a typical oral allergy sensitivity.  For example:

  • Itchy mouth or palate
  • Scratchy throat
  • Swelling that is both around and in the throat and mouth.

However, if you are also allergic to manufactured latex products, your avocado allergy symptoms will appear more like this:

  • Swelling of the lips
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Hives
  • In severe cases, you could have an anaphylactic response.

As you can see, it is important to be careful around avocados if you have an allergy to latex. While there is no guarantee that you will be allergic to avocado, your chances increase if you already have a latex allergy. 

Diagnosing an Avocado Allergy

Currently, there are no commercial tests to determine whether you are allergic to avocado or not. However, conventional allergists usually perform a food challenge test in their office.  

During one of these food challenges, your doctor will feed you a small amount of avocado to see whether you exhibit any symptoms that we listed above. The amount of avocado given is generally small, and the doctor will be there to administer help if something were to go wrong and trigger a severe allergic or anaphylactic reaction. 

While this process may seem tempting and straightforward to do at home, never do a food challenge at home. Only complete this and other food challenges in a clinical setting. This ensures that a doctor is present in case a severe allergic reaction does occur during the challenge. 

Your doctor may also want to do an allergy test to see whether you are allergic to latex and pollen. This gives a clearer picture as whether you will develop an allergy to avocado or not. Many people know ahead of time if they are allergic to latex, but if you are not sure, this is another option. 

When testing for a pollen or a latex allergy, the doctor will use a skin prick test to see whether an allergy exists. If you are allergic to avocado already, then it is likely that one or both of these tests will be positive, but it may help determine which type of avocado allergy you have. 

There are some significant risks involved with food challenges.  If food challenges and needle pricks worry you, or you don’t want to expose your children to them, there is an alternative.  See a holistic allergist.  A holistic allergist can diagnose and treat your sensitivities to foods, pollens, chemicals, and stimuli without the use of pain, needles, drugs, or supplements; and without running the risk of a severe allergic reaction during the testing or treatment as the method used is non-invasive and safe to administer.

What to do if You Suspect an Allergy to Avocados and Latex Containing Foods

Although an avocado allergy is not all that common, it is becoming more prevalent as more people are open to trying different fruit and vegetable options with their meals.  It is good, healthy, and important to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. If you think you have a sensitivity to any food, remember a holistic allergist can safely test and successfully treat for most of those sensitivities. 

If you are suffering from allergies, and you have been unsuccessful with allergy treatments or are looking for something different, St. Louis Allergy Relief Center tests and treats allergies holistically without pain, pills, or shots. The clinic specializes in holistic allergy treatments using Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT).  They provide you with a detailed treatment plan after completing comprehensive testing and assessment to determine seasonal, environmental, food, and chemical stressors that may be triggering allergies or allergy-like symptoms.   Visit https://stlouisallergyrelief.com to learn more or call Beverly at 314-384-9304 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/591263/average-avocado-consumption-us-per-week/

https://acaai.org/allergies/types/food-allergies/types-food-allergy/oral-allergy-syndrome

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12440950/ 

https://acaai.org/allergies/types/latex-allergy#:~:text=What%20foods%20are%20potential%20problems,papaya%2C%20raw%20potato%20and%20tomato

https://stlouisallergyrelief.com/foods-that-trigger-severe-food-allergies/ 

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