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Citrus allergy: symptoms of citrus allergy

  1. Citrus allergy indicates an allergic reaction to citrus fruits. Those affected have an allergic reaction to eating citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, etc. This fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C and strengthens the immune system. However, this can overreact with citrus fruits. Preservatives, pesticides, etc. with which the fruits are treated can also cause discomfort in humans. Citrus allergy can cause symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, itchy throat and sore throat, as well as swollen mucous membranes, blisters and bumps, and eczema on the skin. Whether an allergy to citrus fruits is actually present can be determined by an allergy test.

What is a citrus allergy?

  1. There are roughly two different types of citrus allergy. The first form is food allergy, the second is contact allergy, in which certain substances from outside the body trigger an allergic reaction after contact with the skin. In the latter case, citrus fruits cannot even be touched. With a food allergy, none of this would be a problem, but eating citrus fruits causes symptoms. Allergic people react violently to citrus fruits but tolerate some fruits better than others. Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and tangerines in particular cause symptoms, but that does not mean that all other citrus fruits can be eaten without hesitation.

Causes of a citrus fruit allergy

  1. Chlorogenic acids There's a reason a lemon tastes sour. They and most other citrus fruits contain high levels of chlorogenic acids, which in turn can trigger allergic reactions. Most allergic people are not born with a citrus allergy, but develop it over their lifetime. It can also occur late in life when you have been eating citrus fruits your whole life without symptoms or tolerated with only very mild symptoms.

Biphenyl or thiabendazole

  1. However, an allergy to citrus fruits can also be due to the agents used to treat the fruit. For lemons, these are often biphenyl or thiabendazole. The Nutrition Center writes about this:

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS)

  1. Many allergic reactions to citrus fruits are the result of oal allergy syndrome (OAS), which is caused by pollen allergies. This is known as cross reactivity, which occurs because pollen and citrus fruits share certain proteins. These shared proteins cause the body to react after eating certain food products. This cross reactions between pollen and food is what causes OAS.

Symptoms of citrus allergy

  1. Symptoms Typical symptoms of a citrus allergy are:


  1. Citrus allergy has light and heavy forms. In the case of a contact allergy, the symptoms appear externally on the skin. This often includes redness, scaling (flaky skin), swelling, itching and blisters, but sometimes also large painful blisters. It may take up to two days for these symptoms to disappear. If, on the other hand, it is the manifestation of food allergy, oral complaints are in the foreground.

Examination and diagnosis

  1. The diagnosis of citrus fruit allergy is relatively easy to make by means of an allergy test. You will usually also be screened for fructose intolerance and several possible allergens tested. A few drops of liquid are applied to your bare forearm and each drop contains a different dissolved allergen. The skin is then punctured through each drop with a small needle. The drops are then dabbed away and if you are allergic to one or more substances, itchy bumps will appear within twenty minutes.

Treatment of citrus fruit allergy

  1. Avoid citrus fruits The only effective way to treat a citrus allergy is to avoid all citrus fruits for life. In the treatment of food allergies, you eliminate the foods to which you react from the diet. This is actually easier said than done, because not only are the fruits in many foods, they provide you with high levels of vitamin C. For this reason, you will likely also receive nutritional advice to prevent malnutrition.

Epi-Pen (an adrenaline auto-injector)

  1. Allergy sufferers with severe symptoms should always have an Epi-Pen (an adrenaline auto-injector) with them, so that they can respond in an emergency if they have eaten citrus fruit unnoticed or otherwise have come into contact with it.

Vitamin C Supplements

  1. In addition, patients with a citrus fruit allergy often need vitamin C supplements to avoid vitamin C deficiency. Or you ensure that you consume enough other fruit that contains vitamin C (see below).


  1. Immunotherapy can make people with allergies insensitive to the substance they are allergic to. In immunotherapy, the body is given an agent through injections, tablets or a liquid that activates the immune system in a specific area.


  1. Unfortunately, a citrus allergy cannot be prevented. Why allergies arise is still the subject of research in 2020, but hereditary predisposition plays a role. With a hereditary predisposition, the allergy can develop at any age. There are no effective preventive measures you can take to prevent that.

What to eat and drink?

  1. Which foods to avoid? A person with a citrus allergy should avoid these foods. Citrus fruits include:

Alternative foods

  1. Some people can tolerate cooked citrus fruits because heat can deactivate the proteins that cause an allergic reaction. For those who can't tolerate citrus but want to add a tart flavor to meals, popular citrus substitutes include:

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