Updated date:

How Does Latex-Fruit Syndrome Compare with Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome?

Beverley has a degree in Science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.

Blowing nose

Blowing nose

Some of you may have experienced inflammation of the skin, sinuses, eyes, throat, and even digestive organs after making contact with certain agents. Most likely you had an allergic reaction. A Michigan State University study found that three to four percent of our general population suffers just from food allergies!

Human Immune System

Human Immune System

What Are Allergies?

According to the Mayo Clinic, allergies are how our immune system reacts to entities it deems harmful. Examples of such entities or agents are plastics, wasp venom, pet dander, mold, pollen, latex, and certain foods.

The perceived danger triggers the immune system to produce antibodies to combat the so-called enemy. The result is inflamed tissues. The severity depends on the allergen and your DNA.

Latex-fruit syndrome and pollen-food allergy syndrome (PFAS), also called pollen allergy syndrome and oral allergy syndrome (OAS) are names given to the body’s responses to food allergies. How are they similar? How are they different?

Natural latex from a rubber tree

Natural latex from a rubber tree

Rubber tree

Rubber tree

Latex-Fruit Syndrome

What Is Latex?

What exactly is latex? It is a natural substance derived from the sap of certain plants, including the Brazilian rubber tree. It’s usually sticky, possibly milky, and it’s actually the plants’ defense mechanism against foreign invaders. Sound familiar?

Latex Fashion

Latex Fashion

What Is Latex Allergy?

Latex allergy is the reaction that may develop in sensitive individuals who make contact with anything containing latex, be it rubber bands, bandages, gloves, or balls.

Dermatitis

Dermatitis

How Is Latex Allergy Diagnosed?

The first latex allergy case was discovered in 1927. Subsequent studies show that less than one percent of the United States population is allergic to latex. How is the allergy determined? If you have the propensity for allergic reactions, regularly use latex-containing products, or had surgeries that required the use of latex-containing supplies, your doctor will

. Test your blood for latex antibodies

. Conduct a physical exam

. Consider your overall medical and latex history

Allergy testing

Allergy testing

Types of Latex Allergy Reactions?

Medical professionals have placed reactions to natural latex into three categories:

. IgE-Mediated Latex Allergy or Type 1. The body’s immune system produces immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies to combat latex proteins that may have made contact with mucous in the mouth, digestive system, respiratory system, or the skin.

. Cell-Mediated Contact Dermatitis or Type IV. An allergic reaction occurs in any skin tissue that makes contact with latex products. The response is considered non-life-threatening.

. Irritant Contact Dermatitis. Medical experts consider this type more of a skin reaction to rubber latex than a true allergic reaction. The affected individual may develop a red, itchy rash in the area of regular contact.

Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit

Pineapple

Pineapple

Latex-Fruit Allergy: Cross Reactivity

Latex-Fruit Allergy Syndrome falls under the Type 1 category. Certain fruits like papaya, banana, or kiwifruit contain proteins that act like those in natural rubber latex. Consuming them, especially fresh or raw, can trigger a reaction in individuals with latex allergies. This is called cross-reactivity.

Swollen eyelid

Swollen eyelid

Symptoms of Latex-Fruit Allergy Syndrome

The symptoms of latex-fruit allergy syndrome or latex-food allergy can be mild to life-threatening. They include

. Hives

. Runny, itchy, inflamed eyes

. Runny nose

. Sneezing

. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS): itchy, tingly, stinging, or swelling of lips, mouth, and/ or tongue

. Anaphylaxis: OAS, difficult breathing, rapid heart rate (could be fatal)

Latex-Fruit Syndrome Sufferers

Fruits That May Trigger Latex-Fruit Syndrome

The following fruits may cause latex-fruit allergy syndrome*:

. Apples

. Bananas

. Pineapples

. Kiwifruits

. Papayas

. Melons

. Mangos

. Figs

* Latex-food allergies may also occur with the consumption of certain vegetables.

Treatment for Latex-Fruit Syndrome

Recommended treatment for latex-fruit allergy syndrome include:

. Avoidance of those fruits (and foods) with latex-like proteins.

. Wearing a Medic-Alert bracelet.

. Consulting with an allergist.

. Carrying a doctor-prescribed Epi-Pen or similar device with epinephrine.

Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any food source or medication. This article is simply to provide information and does not encourage self-medicating.

Ask the Allergist: Latex Allergy and Cross-Reactivity

Pollen in flower

Pollen in flower

Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome

What Is Pollen?

The pollen grain is a plant’s male gametophyte, think sperm cell. It fuses with the female gametophyte to form a zygote. The zygote eventually becomes the plant’s seed. Individuals who are highly sensitive to the proteins in a particular plant’s male gametophyte may develop allergic reactions.

Birch tree

Birch tree

Sagebrush

Sagebrush

What Is Pollen Allergy?

Most of us know someone who suffers from seasonal allergies. Pollen is considered to be one of the most common causes. Each season except winter, trees, grasses, and weeds release their pollen into the environment. Wind transport help get them to their counterparts for fertilization. Highly sensitive individuals who inhale the tiny grains as they are blown about may then get inflamed respiratory systems.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Apples

Apples

What Is Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome?

In PFAS the body’s immune system reacts to proteins in certain raw fruits, vegetables, and some nuts as they do pollen grain proteins. It creates antibodies to fight off the perceived foreign invaders. In this case, the oropharynx area of susceptible individuals, and sometimes the gastrointestinal region, develops inflammation. Studies imply that 60 percent of food allergies are connected to pollen allergies.

Who Gets PFAS?

Individuals who are sensitive to plant aeroallergens, mainly grass, ragweed, sagebrush, and birch may suffer pollen-food allergy syndrome. Research shows that at least 20 percent of children and 58 percent of adults may be affected.

Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome Diagnosis

How Is Pollen or Pollen-Food Allergy Diagnosed?

Medical experts have determined that pollen-food allergy syndrome develops after continued exposure to the allergen during adolescence or adulthood. This makes a diagnosis somewhat challenging.

In one Japanese study, researchers collected pollen, diet, and medical histories from parents on their adolescent children, and then performed IgE tests. The results showed a correlation or cross-reactivity between pollen allergy and PFAS.

Inflamed tongue

Inflamed tongue

Symptoms of Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome

What are the symptoms of pollen-food allergy syndrome? Typically, they are similar to the symptoms of seasonal pollen allergy. However, there could be additional symptoms. They include

. Hives

. Runny nose

. Sneezing

. Itchy mouth, ears

. Scratchy throat

. Swelling of lips, mouth, and/ or tongue

. Gastrointestinal/ Digestive system issues

. Anaphylaxis (could be fatal)

. Neurological issues including headaches

Foods That May Trigger Pollen-Allergy Syndrome

What foods should an OAS or PFAS sufferer avoid? Pollen-like food allergens including:

. Apples

. Bananas

. Kiwifruits

. Melons

. Peaches

. Figs

. Oranges

. Carrots

. Cucumbers

. Tomatoes

. Herbs: cilantro and parsley

. Sunflower seeds

. Almonds

. Hazelnuts

Snack Hacks for Oral Allergy Syndrome

Treatment for Pollen Allergy or Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome

Recommended treatments for pollen-food allergy syndrome:

. Avoid consuming fresh/ raw food allergens

. Cook food allergens before consuming them when possible.

. Consult an allergist

. Always carry a doctor-prescribed Epi-Pen or similar device with epinephrine.

. Purchase over-the-counter antihistamines.

Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming any food source or medication. This article is simply to provide information and does not encourage self-medicating.

Bottom Line

To answer the question: “How does latex-fruit syndrome compare with pollen-food allergy syndrome?” In both conditions, the immune system reacts the same. It produces antibodies to fight the proteins it considers dangerous to us. The result is the development of inflammation in certain bodily tissues.

Sufferers of both syndromes develop similar symptoms, including runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, skin rashes, hives, swelling of the mouth region, and even life-threatening anaphylaxis. PFAS sufferers may experience additional neurological problems.

Medical experts use more or less the same diagnostic tools, and prescribe the same or at least similar treatments: avoid suspect allergens, consult an allergist, carry an Epi-Pen. Do the syndromes differ? Somewhat.

The difference between latex-fruit syndrome and pollen-food allergy syndrome is that the latter encompasses all food allergens, including those fruits with latex-like proteins.

Related Articles