An allergy to tart cherry juice is an immune system reaction that may occur minutes or hours after drinking the juice. The allergic reaction can cause symptoms, including swelling, rash, itching, digestive problems or swollen mouth, tongue or airways. The highest cause for concern is the possibility of airway constriction during an acute allergy attack. This condition -- called anaphylaxis -- requires emergency medical treatment.
A food allergy is sometimes difficult to pinpoint due to the varied nature of the symptoms. Signs and symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting. It is common to have asthma, wheezing, cough or itchy eyes, nose and throat. Sometimes the lips, mouth, tongue or face swells up. Rashes, redness on the skin or hives may also be visible. During an allergy attack, you may feel dizzy, confused or lightheaded.
Many people with food allergies are allergic to more than one food or allergen. People who suffer from hay fever may also be sensitive to tart cherries or tart cherry juice because the allergy-causing protein in the two plants are similar. According to the Mayo Clinic, food allergies to tart cherry juice or other foods affect about 6 to 8 percent of children under age 5 and about 3 to 4 percent of adults.
A reaction to tart cherries or tart cherry juice involves two main aspects of the immune system. One component is an allergy antibody called immunoglobulin E and the other is the mast cell, which stores up histamine. When your body encounters a possible allergen, histamine is released, which can produce a number of symptoms, including swelling, watery, itchy eyes and a runny nose.
A food intolerance usually causes gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating or gas, but rarely produces cough, runny nose and itchy red eyes like an allergy, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ask your doctor to perform a simple skin test in order to determine if you have an intolerance or an allergy. If an allergy is confirmed, the allergist may prescribe medications or a rescue inhaler.