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Allergy to Watermelon

By Kristeen Cherney

Watermelon is a hydrating fruit that is a refreshing snack during summer and early fall. If you have certain allergies, however, you may be susceptible to developing a watermelon allergy. Watermelon allergy is often associated with ragweed pollen. In fact, according to Phadia AB, a manufacturer of blood testing products used in allergy diagnosis, approximately 50 percent of people who have an allergy to watermelon are also allergic to ragweed.

Causes

According to the Allergen Bureau, the three allergens in watermelon that cause reactions include profilin, malate dehydrogenase and triose phosphate isomerase. Watermelon allergy may also be attributed to oral allergy syndrome. Oral allergy syndrome is classified as an allergy to pollen, such as that from ragweed. Foods like watermelon can carry traces of ragweed pollen, which poses problems if you are allergic to that particular type of pollen.

Symptoms

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, or AAAAI, oral allergy syndrome, including watermelon allergies, primarily affect your mouth and throat. If you have an allergy to watermelon, eating the fruit can cause your throat and mouth to swell and itch. Your tongue may also swell in response to the allergen. Severe reactions are rare, but may cause severe throat swelling accompanied by shortness of breath. Symptoms of watermelon allergy occur immediately.

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Diagnosis

An allergist can determine whether you have an allergy to watermelon. Testing is conducted by a skin-prick test. Your skin is pricked with a tube that contains an extract of watermelon. If your skin reacts to the extract, then watermelon allergy is the diagnosis. Reactions are in the form of a red bump that can grow in size within a matter of minutes. Your allergist may also test for pollen and other foods at the same time in order to rule out other types of allergies.

Prevention/Solution

Avoid eating watermelon, particularly during ragweed season. Ragweed pollen is prevalent during the fall months. Pollen and watermelon allergies can be treated with prescription antihistamines, which block the allergens from causing any symptoms. Although watermelon is easily avoidable, associated pollen may not be so easy to hide from. If pollen allergies persist, consider allergy shots.

Considerations

Other melons and produce, such as honeydew and cucumber, can contain the same allergens as watermelon, thus causing similar allergic reactions. The Allergen Bureau reports that people with latex allergies are more susceptible to watermelon allergy, and vice-versa. If you have an allergy to watermelon, the AAAAI advises that you steer clear of bananas, celery, oranges, papaya, tomatoes, kiwi, peaches and avocados, as these may carry traces of ragweed pollen.

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