Kiwi Allergy Guide | Lifelab Testing

Kiwi Allergy Guide

Last Updated: 10th January 2023 · Written by Kate Young

Kiwi, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is a fruit which is relatively common in people’s diets as it is rich in nutrients and tasty. However, there are some individuals who experience uncomfortable symptoms after eating or touching the fruit. Kiwis can impact individuals in different ways, with some people experiencing severe reactions that others only notice mildly.

Most kiwi fruit allergy symptoms are mild, but this does not mean that individuals cannot respond severely, even sometimes with anaphylaxis. It has been suggested that it is more common for children to experience severe reactions to kiwi compared to adults. Even though having a kiwi allergy means you’ll not tolerate eating kiwis, it can also lead to cross-reactivity with other foods, pollen, or latex. Kiwi allergy is becoming a common issue worldwide, which is why we’ve created this Kiwi Allergy Guide to tell you more about symptoms, cross-reactivity and testing.

What is kiwi allergy?

A kiwi allergy occurs when your immune system mistakes the proteins present in kiwi as harmful substances like viruses or bacteria. After this mistake, the immune system sends white blood cells, IgE antibodies, and other compounds to fight off the “harmful” substances. When the immune system responds in such a manner, even though you don’t have any harmful substances in the body, you’ll witness kiwi allergy symptoms. The proteins present in kiwi fruit that result in allergy symptoms include actinidin, thaumatin-like protein, and kiwellin. However, studies show that the compound 30 kDa thiol-protease actinidin is the major kiwi allergen {1}. People with a kiwi allergy also tend to be hypersensitive to other foods.

Kiwi allergy symptoms

Kiwi fruit allergy symptoms are divided into two categories because there is true kiwi allergy and oral allergy syndrome.

Oral allergy syndrome

Also known as pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS), the body accidentally confuses certain foods for pollen. This leads to the production of mild allergic symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Itching of the mouth, lips, and tongue after eating the fruit.
  • Skin rashes.

You will notice that Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) symptoms are rising or at their worst when pollen counts are high. OAS symptoms often only last for a few minutes before they disappear.

True kiwi allergy symptoms

When experiencing a true allergy to kiwi, the symptoms tend to be more severe than OAS. If one experiences symptoms like anaphylaxis, there is a need to get them to the emergency room. These include:

  • Abdominal pains.
  • Rashes.
  • Vomiting.
  • Trouble breathing/anaphylaxis (more common than in OAS).
  • Eczema is a skin condition that involves raised, itchy patches.
  • Hives.

If you have a mild reaction when eating kiwi, such as itching around your mouth, it is best to stop eating the fruit because the next time you consume it, the symptoms will reappear. Most true kiwi allergies happen within the first 20-30 minutes of consumption.

Kiwi latex allergy

Latex is a natural product produced by rubber trees and other similar trees. You’ll often find latex in condoms and surgical gloves. Latex allergy often increases the risk of getting different allergic reactions like kiwi allergy. Kiwi and latex share at least two similar allergens hence why they’re tightly connected to each other. If you’re allergic to latex, you might also have a higher risk of getting an allergy to bananas and avocados. The reason for this relationship between latex and fruits is due to the similarity in the compounds present in these fruits and latex. Latex compounds are also similar to compounds present in certain vegetables, fruits, nuts, and tree pollen. So, an allergy to kiwi may also mean you’ll have a latex allergy, through cross-reactivity. Having a kiwi allergy also means that you may be allergic to other fruits and vegetables that share similar compounds to this fruit.

How long does kiwi allergy last?

Kiwi allergy symptoms start a few minutes after contact or consumption of the fruit, mainly within the first two hours of consuming the fruit. For children, it’s possible that they may outgrow their allergies once they enter teenagehood. However, for adults, you need to find ways to manage the allergy since kiwi fruit will always be an allergy you need to deal with. Specific skin-related symptoms like hives and rashes may take at least two days to clear up in the short term. However, if you suffer from a severe allergy to kiwi, you must visit the hospital even after using an EpiPen because sometimes the symptoms reoccur approximately four hours after the first symptoms. Hence, it is best to stay under the doctor’s supervision if the symptoms reoccur in severe cases.

Kiwi allergy in children

Kiwi is a known allergen, and even though kiwi fruit is full of vitamins and nutrients, you shouldn’t wean your baby with kiwi if you have a history of allergies in your family. Babies have weaker immunity and tend to have many allergies even though they outgrow them late on. You can always consult your doctor if you’re worried about kiwi. If your child has an upset stomach, bloating, or even diarrhoea after eating kiwi fruit, these can be symptoms of an allergy. Some other symptoms you may see from an allergic reaction to kiwi include:

  • Redness or swelling around the lips and mouth.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Irritability.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Scaly or red patches on the skin.
  • Hives.

If you suspect your child may be allergic to kiwi, you should take them to a doctor if their symptoms are mild and resolve quickly, or straight to the emergency room if they are severe.

Kiwi allergy testing

basic allergy test
Basic Allergy Test.

If you suspect you may be suffering from a kiwi fruit allergy, then we recommend you visit your doctor and present your symptoms, and they will help you know whether you may have any underlying conditions that could be causing your symptoms. If you’re unsure if kiwi is the specific cause of your allergy symptoms and want to gain more insight, you could order yourself a simple home Allergy Test. At our laboratory, we will test your sample against common allergens in your environment and your food. After a comprehensive review by our scientists, you will get your results on your phone in seven days, showing you foods you need to keep away from since you’re allergic to them.

An allergy test only tells you what you need to avoid. However, you’re the one who needs to do the heavy lifting. The only way to manage an allergy to kiwi is by avoiding the fruit in all ways possible. While some people can consume cooked kiwi since the proteins are inactivated, others can’t. However, you don’t need to try cooking kiwi down to eat it; you can always substitute it for other healthy and nutritious fruits. Be careful when eating salads, drinking smoothies, and generally eating food not prepared by you at home. If you’re eating somewhere other than your home, always let the host or staff know about your allergy so you can prevent yourself from suffering from any kiwi allergy symptoms.

References

  1. Hassan, A. K., & Venkatesh, Y. P. (2015). An overview of fruit allergy and the causative allergens. European annals of allergy and clinical immunology, 47(6), 180-187.

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