Food allergies affect approximately 2 percent of adults, and between 4 and 8 percent of children, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. While cherries are not one of the top eight food allergens, they do cause allergic reactions in some people, particularly those with pollen allergies. Because allergy symptoms can begin as a mild annoyance but get worse with repeated exposure to the allergen, if you notice any signs of a potential allergy to cherries, see your doctor and ask for a referral to an allergist.
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An allergy to cherries can cause mild to severe symptoms. True allergy symptoms usually involve the skin and the intestines, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you eat cherries and you are allergic to them, you might experience mouth tingling, nausea and vomiting, hives or itching, nasal congestion and a metallic taste in your mouth. This could be the extent of your symptoms, or they might progress into very severe symptoms, called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.
Anaphylaxis involves the cardiovascular and respiratory systems and can occur very rapidly. Some symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, wheezing or difficulty breathing, a rapid heartbeat, fainting and a loss of consciousness. Anaphylaxis is an emergency and is life-threatening without prompt medical care. If you eat cherries and have an anaphylactic reaction, your doctor will give you injectable epinephrine to use in case it happens again in the future. Whether you have epinephrine or not, call 911 immediately if you begin to exhibit the symptoms of anaphylaxis; do not wait to see if your symptoms get worse, because by then you may lose consciousness.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
An allergy to cherries may also indicate an allergy to birch pollen. You might have oral symptoms of this allergy when you eat other fruits or vegetables that contain proteins similar to the protein in birch pollen. These include peaches, apples, kiwi, plums, pears, parsley, celery or carrots. Usually, the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome include tingling and itching of the mouth and throat. They may also include swelling, which can impede breathing in severe cases and must be treated as anaphylaxis.
Testing for Allergy
One way to test for a cherry allergy is, while under the supervision of an allergist, to eliminate cherries from your diet to see if your symptoms go away. If you have no had severe reactions to cherries, your allergist might then recommend eating cherries again to see if they bring on similar symptoms. If you have had serious or severe reactions to cherries in the past, your doctor may recommend skin or blood testing to confirm the diagnosis of the allergy. If you think you have an allergy to cherries, do not try to elicit a reaction on your own, as this could be very dangerous.