Symptoms of a cross allergy, treatment & helpful tips
Although most people know the term cross allergy, many do not understand what it really means. A predominant proportion of food allergies occurs as a cross allergic reaction to existing hypersensitivities.
Reason enough to take a closer look at the clinical picture: How does a this articular allergy manifest itself?
What options for testing and therapy do we have available, and what sets it apart from classic allergies?
What is a cross allergy?
These hypersensitivities often appear in connection with food allergies. Doctors can many times trace back a significant proportion of food allergies to a cross-reaction.
We can describe this as a mix-up that happens to the immune system. It leads to an immune reaction to substances that closely resemble the allergen of an existing allergy.
This can easily occur with very similar proteins or with substances from the same botanical family.
Pollen-associated food allergy is particularly noteworthy. Pollen allergy sufferers (classic “hay fever”) quite often have to deal with a cross allergy to certain foods. A percentage of around 60% of all those affected is assumed.
Basically, the symptoms of a cross allergy resemble those of a “real” allergy, although the variations in the degree of expression differ.
Most of the time, cross allergic reactions have milder symptoms. Serious signs (violent reactions up to anaphylactic shock) rarely happen.
In addition, symptoms of breathing and the cardiovascular system occur far less frequently with cross hypersensitivities.
Basically, as with all allergies, symptoms can occur in all areas.
Typically, however, the signs of a cross reaction tend to appear in the area of the oral mucosa, lips, tongue, nose or eyes and the skin in general.
Overview of symptoms
Tingling, itching and burning sensation on the palate, throat, lips and tongue
Mucosal swelling and runny nose
Blistering of the oral mucosa
Eye reactions (itching, burning, tears, inflammation)
Symptoms on the skin: swelling, wheals, itching, flushing symptoms, eczema
Symptoms related to the gastrointestinal tract (cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc.)
Signs that affect the respiratory system
Symptoms concerning the cardiovascular system
Important for diagnosis
An anamnesis interview is essential when detecting a cross allergy. Based on existing allergies, reactions that occur when someone eats certain foods, and the prevailing symptoms, the physician can make initial assumptions (suspected diagnosis).
Often the patient himself has found clear connections between certain foods and unpleasant side effects. Keeping a symptom diary becomes useful here.
Certain cross-reactions also occur very frequently (e.g. tree pollen – apples or nuts; dust mite – shellfish) and, thus, quickly come into focus.
It is important to clearly distinguish cross allergy to food from food intolerance.
Basically, the classic instruments of allergy diagnostics are also available for the diagnosis of cross hypersensitivities:
1- Prick test. A skin test; application of an allergen solution to the slightly scratched skin, which enables the observation of any reactions.
2- Blood test (IgE antibody determination in the blood)
3- Oral provocation test. Here, under medical supervision and observation, the patient consumes suspected food to determine any allergic reactions.
Treatment and prognosis
After positive test results, the first step is to avoid the allergen or make it tolerable accordingly.
In contrast to the “real” allergy, there is the possibility, especially with cross allergies to certain foods, to make them compatible with appropriate preparation methods (shredding, cooking, cooking).
This is due to the fact that the proteins lose their allergenic effect through such processes.
In addition, the possibility remains that in the months when there is no pollen count, the symptoms with existing “real” pollen allergy will improve significantly or even temporarily disappear into the air.
Furthermore, common allergy medications (in tablet form, as inhalation sprays, ointments or injections) can provide relief in acute cases.
And desensitization treatment against the original allergy, for example pollen allergy, can also lead to a decrease in cross-allergy.
Differences to the “real” allergy
WE can see significant differences to the original allergy in the fact that symptoms of a cross allergy can arise from the first contact with the allergen. The immune system confuses the allergen and, therefore, reacts immediately.
Also, the symptoms and course are usually milder.
These cross reactions occur frequently
Here is an overview of the most common cross allergies:
Cross allergies for birch allergy: apple, carrot, celery, tomato, soy, hazelnut, Brazil nut almond, walnut, kiwi, cherry, plum, peach
In mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) allergy: carrot, potato, celery, bell pepper, tomato, kiwi, melon, mango, anise, curry, coriander, caraway, chamomile, cinnamon, sunflower seeds
Cross allergies to allergies to grass and cereals: tomato, melon, peanut, soy, cereal flour
To house dust mite: oyster, lobster, shrimp, mussel, squid
Crossing with latex allergy: potato, tomato, banana, melon, chestnut, kiwi, fig, avocado
Cross hypersensitivities in allergy to bird feathers: egg, offal, poultry
Interesting facts, tips and tricks
Chopping, e.g. grated apple, and cooking, for example jam, cooked vegetables, etc., often destroy the allergy-causing proteins and the immune system does not have to come up with reactions.
In pollen-associated allergies, cross-allergy often takes a back seat outside of pollen flight.
With a cross hypersensitivity to apples, symptoms often vary depending on the variety. The situation is similar with kiwi: sufferers often tolerate yellow kiwi better than green kiwi.
Beware of stress, infections and excessive alcohol consumption, they increase the cross allergy.
I hope that the article has shed some more light on the topic of cross allergy for you. Now it’s your time to have your say.
So, if you are a sufferer of any type of hypersensitivity, have questions or simply would like to share your experiences with us, then feel free to do so in a comment below.
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