Cross-allergies: what they are

These are allergic reactions triggered, in the same individual, by apparently different causes. Here are some examples of cross-allergies.

The discovery of cross-allergies is one of the latest achievements of allergology. These reactions are due, for example, to the presence of the same protein both in pollen and in a certain food. In fact, the immune system launches its attack when it comes into contact with the allergen, regardless of the “route” through which it enters the body.

Dangerous relationships

Here are some of the most important cross-allergies.

Pollen and fruit or vegetables

The most frequent case of cross-allergic reaction is between birch and apple pollen, as the dominant allergen of the plant is very similar to that of this fruit. The allergen of birch pollen is also associated with that of peanuts, celery, carrot, potato, pear and kiwi.

Other cases of cross-allergies occur between:

  • grasses and tomato, kiwi, watermelon, peanut, wheat flour
  • ragweed and watermelon, melon, banana
  • composite and celery, fennel, carrot, green pepper, parsley, chicory, chamomile
  • parietaria and cherries, melon and basil.

Powder and crustaceans

Another frequent case of cross-allergy is that between dust mites and crustaceans, because they have a common allergen: tropomyosin.

Latex and bananas

Latex allergy is also very frequent, which can be associated with that caused by certain foods, such as bananas, kiwis, avocados and chestnuts.

There is also an allergic association between bird feathers and egg yolk. More at risk are people in contact with these animals, such as chicken farmers, who become sensitized and develop an allergic reaction to the egg.

How they manifest themselves

Cross-allergies can occur in any season. The disorders appear immediately after the ingestion of dangerous foods and occur mainly in the skin, with itching and swelling of both the lips and mouth, but also with respiratory disorders, due to the appearance of swelling of the larynx: in these cases, the allergic person feels a real sense of suffocation.

What can be done to reduce these risks? According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, you can consume these “forbidden” foods cooked in the oven or microwave, because high temperatures break down the proteins that cause allergic reactions.

The National Health Service, on the other hand, suggests eating the fruits a little more unripe, while the Allergy UK association advises to remember the varieties of foods that triggered the reactions, as not all apples, for example, are the same and it is possible that a certain variety can be eaten without running any danger.

Intolerance is not synonymous with allergy

Food allergies are often talked about improperly. In addition to real food allergies, where the immune system is directly affected, there are also the so-called food intolerances, unwanted reactions due to the consumption of certain foods.

These intolerances do not depend on an adverse reaction of the immune system, but on the scarce presence (qualitative and quantitative) in the body of some enzymes that have the task of regulating the absorption of certain substances.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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