Strawberry Allergy Guide | Lifelab Testing

Strawberry Allergy Guide

Last Updated: 2nd February 2023 · Written by Kate Young

Strawberries are among the most consumed fruits around the globe, especially in Summer. When it’s warm weather in the UK, there’s nothing better than eating strawberries with your picnic, with cream watching Wimbledon or in your eton mess dessert. Because of this, there are even periods when strawberry sales outsell household staples like bread and milk.

These delicious fruits also have a myriad of benefits for the body. They’re packed with more vitamin C by weight compared to oranges. They can help regulate blood pressure, boost immunity and even prevent wrinkles. The red colour that strawberries possess is due to the presence of various flavonoids, which are suitable for reducing cholesterol levels. Strawberries are a great snack that is low in calories hence why most people love them. One hundred grams of strawberries only packs 50 calories.

Despite many people loving strawberries, some individuals can experience a negative reaction to strawberries, which can either be an intolerance or an allergy. Strawberry Allergy, even though uncommon, still affects some people. This issue occurs when the immune system mistakes the proteins in strawberries for harmful substances. This leads to the production of histamines and antibodies, leading to allergy reactions which we term strawberry allergy symptoms.

The main compound that causes strawberry allergy is Fragaria allergen 1 (fra a1). This protein is responsible for the reddening of strawberries when they ripen. Other rare strawberry varieties don’t turn red when they ripen, and these lack this compound, hence don’t cause allergic reactions {1}. However, these strawberry varieties aren’t easy to purchase because of their rarity compared to white strawberries.

Strawberry allergy symptoms

The symptoms of strawberry allergy vary from mild to severe, depending on the person. Most people experience mild to moderate symptoms. However, it’s possible to encounter more severe, life-threatening symptoms. The most common strawberry allergy symptoms include:

  • Itching and inflammation of the throat and mouth.
  • A feeling of tightness in the throat.
  • Congestion.
  • Itchy skin.
  • Coughing and wheezing.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Hives.

There are different types of reactions that one can have when they’re allergic to strawberries, these include:

Oral allergy syndrome with strawberries

Woman with itchy and red neck
A woman with an itchy neck

Strawberries contain allergens that trigger symptoms in people suffering from oral allergy syndrome (OAS). OAS includes symptoms such as itching, swelling and tingling in the mouth or throat. The treatment for this is heating the fruit, since the proteins change when a food is heated, or simply avoiding it. To avoid having OAS symptoms when eating strawberries, you’ll need to avoid fruits in the Rosaceae family, as they contain similar proteins to those in strawberries. Therefore, you’ll need to avoid peaches, apples, cherries, pears, and other fruits in the Rosaceae family. These OAS symptoms often appear 5-15 minutes after consuming raw fruits. The symptoms are always mild, affecting the throat and mouth and causing inflammation.

Mucosal irritation

Strawberries can cause various reactions, including mucosal irritation due to acidic pH. In some cases, merely touching strawberries can result in allergic contact dermatitis.

Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is caused by IgE mast cell degranulation. Symptoms include hives, swelling, wheezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhoea and low blood pressure. If you notice someone having these symptoms, it’s best to call 911 as they need immediate medical attention since this is a dire condition.

Symptoms of strawberry allergy that are mild are often treated with OTC medication. In instances of anaphylaxis, an EpiPen is used to reduce the symptoms. However, in such severe cases, one must stay under the doctor’s watch for a few hours to ensure they’re treated if the symptoms come back, which they can after a few hours.

How long does an allergic reaction to strawberries last?

On a short-term basis, some strawberry allergy symptoms take a week to disappear, mainly if they’ve caused reactions on the skin (like hives from strawberries). In contrast, other symptoms can leave quickly if you take antihistamines, but the time it takes depends on the severity of the symptoms. Sometimes strawberry allergic reactions reoccur a few hours later, and that’s why it’s beneficial to stay under the doctor’s care for observation, especially if you’ve suffered from anaphylaxis. Research looking at the prevalence of strawberry allergy in Bosnian children found that only 3-4% of the early-years group had this allergy. However, the percentage decreases to 0.5-1% in late childhood {2}.

In children, it’s hard to say how long their allergic reaction to strawberries will last since it is possible for them to outgrow allergies. However, if you’re an adult, your strawberry allergy will probably stay with you for the rest of your life, and it’s something that you’ll need to manage and learn to live with.

Risk factors of strawberry allergy

Strawberry allergy can affect anyone, but some factors increase your chances of suffering from this food allergy. If your family has a history of allergies, eczema, or asthma, you’re at a higher chance of suffering from strawberry and other common food allergies. Anyone can develop a strawberry allergy at any time, but it is more common for children to develop an allergy. Children have a higher rate of allergies than adults because their immune system is still developing. However, even though their chance of developing allergies is higher, children also tend to outgrow allergies as they get older.

It is also possible to develop specific food allergies even when you have no family history of allergies. For example, when it comes to children, delaying the introduction of allergenic foods increases the risk of developing food allergies. It is advisable to introduce allergenic foods to babies between months 5 and 7. Early introduction of these foods reduces the chances of developing reactions to them. If your little one reacts to eating any food, talk to their doctor.

Foods to avoid with strawberry allergy

While some people may consume cooked strawberries without getting any reactions, it’s better to talk to a doctor before trying this, especially if you have moderate to severe reactions to strawberries. Certain fruits have similar proteins to strawberries since they’re in the same Rosaceae family, which you’ll need to avoid. They include:

  • Apples.
  • Cherries.
  • Raspberries.
  • Peaches.
  • Blackberries.

If you suffer from strawberry allergy, you may also have an allergy to:

Complete Body Test
Complete Body Test
  • Latex.
  • Birch Pollen.
  • Bananas.
  • Some nuts, such as hazelnuts.
  • Celery.
  • Carrots.
  • Apricots.
  • Melon.

If you’re unsure which food is causing your symptoms, you might benefit from taking an Allergy Test to rule out the common allergens that could be causing you discomfort. Also, if you cannot tell whether you have an intolerance or allergy, you could order a Complete Body Test, which tests for allergies and intolerances including strawberry intolerance. Once you’re certain you have a strawberry allergy, you should avoid these fruits when they are on their own and in flavourings.

Strawberry allergy testing

It’s clear how having a strawberry allergy may lead to other allergies restricting your diet. If you have reactions every time you consume strawberries, it’s best to eliminate them from your diet and take extra care when consuming fruits within the Rosaceae family. If you’re not certain what is causing your allergy symptoms, we recommend you take a simple at home allergy test to determine the cause. Strawberry allergy and other food allergies can often affect a person’s quality of life, and that’s why it’s better to know which ones you have, so you can adjust your diet accordingly to avoid any reactions. Over-the-counter medications can help relieve your allergy symptoms when they’re mild or moderate. However, to prevent uncomfortable symptoms again, you should plan your diet accordingly to avoid these fruits.

References

  1. Cottingham K. (2007). Allergic to strawberries? Try a white one. (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/pr070772v)
  2. Bajraktarevic, A., Trninic, S., Penava, S., Mahinic, A., Begovic, B., Selmovic, A., … & Sporisevic, L. (2011). Prevalence of strawberry allergy in Bosnian children and management. Clinical and Translational Allergy, 1(1), 1-1.

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