Food allergies occur when the immune system has a negative reaction to the proteins found in a certain food. MayoClinic.com states that 6 to 8 percent of children under age 5 have food allergies, as do 3 to 4 percent of adults. Cantaloupe allergies occur most frequently as a result of oral allergy syndrome, which appears more in adults than in children.
If you have an allergy to cantaloupe, even eating a few bites could trigger symptoms. According to MayoClinic.com, many common symptoms occur within the digestive system; these symptoms include itching of the mouth, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. Dizziness, nasal congestion, trouble breathing and hives are also common symptoms. In severe cases, you may experience anaphylaxis, a condition that can cause constriction of the airways, a rapid pulse and loss of consciousness.
Distinguishing between Allergies and Intolerances
A food intolerance mimics a food allergy. However, food allergies often prove more severe. If you have an intolerance to cantaloupe, you might still be able to eat small amounts without having any reaction. Even when a reaction occurs, it stays restrained to digestive symptoms, like abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. In short, if large amounts of cantaloupe upset your stomach, you likely have an intolerance to it. Yet, if small amounts of cantaloupe upset your stomach and cause itching or non-digestive systems, you likely have an allergy.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
Your odds of having an allergy to cantaloupe increase if you also have an allergy to ragweed. Oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome, occurs because proteins in cantaloupe other fruits mimic allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollens, like ragweed pollen. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, you should also avoid bananas, chamomile tea, sunflower seeds and honey containing pollen of the Compositae family. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and other melons may also trigger symptoms.
Visiting Your Doctor
If you suspect you have oral allergy syndrome or any type of allergy to cantaloupe, schedule an appointment with your doctor for confirmation. Prior to your visit, write down all your symptoms along with a diary of other foods you ate with the cantaloupe. Your doctor may perform a skin test. Other allergy tests include blood tests and elimination diet tests.
Avoid eating cantaloupe if you have an allergy to it. If your allergy remains mild, you may consider eating small amounts if accompanied by a strong antihistamine, but consult with your doctor before attempting to do so. According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, immunotherapy or allergy shots also help patients with severe symptoms to cantaloupe and other oral allergy syndrome triggers. If your allergy relates to oral allergy syndrome, you might be able to eat foods containing cooked cantaloupe without experiencing serious symptoms, but talk to your doctor first.
Is This an Emergency?
- MayoClinic.com; Food Allergy - Symptoms; February 2011
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; Ragweed Allergy; 2005
- KidsHealth; Cantaloupe and Carrots Make My Throat Itch; April 2010
- The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Oral Allergy Syndrome; December 2003
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Oral Allergy Syndrome
- National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: Oral Allergy Syndrome and Exercise-Induced Food Allergy