Patients with an avocado allergy may notice signs of irritation when they handle and consume avocados, such as swelling, itching, and discomfort. It is possible to develop an allergy after a lifetime of no allergic reactions, or with the second or third exposure. In all cases, it is important to avoid the allergen, as the reaction can become more severe with future exposures, and the patient could be at risk of serious allergic complications. These can include anaphylaxis, where the airways constrict and the patient cannot breathe.
Handling avocados with an avocado allergy can result in a mild skin rash, swelling, and redness. People who eat the fruit may experience numbness and tingling in the lips and around the mouth or could note itching, swelling, and pain. If the allergy is extreme, people may have difficulty breathing after an avocado exposure, and could develop wheezing in association with severe airway constriction. This can be a medical emergency and requires very prompt treatment.
An avocado allergy can be seen as a standalone medical issue, but it can also occur as part of a condition called latex-fruit allergy syndrome. Patients with this condition have an allergy to natural latex that creates cross-sensitivity with certain fresh fruits and vegetables like avocados, tomatoes, melons, and bananas. While these patients will not necessarily react to all foods, they may experience some fruit and vegetable allergies in association with their latex allergy.
People who notice food allergy symptoms like numbness, skin irritation, and itching should take note of any foods they have eaten in the past 24 hours and discuss the situation with a doctor. A patient may be at risk of an avocado allergy because of family history or underlying issues like a known latex allergy, in which case it may be easy to pinpoint the likely source of the reaction. In other cases, the doctor may recommend allergy testing or an elimination diet, where the patient eats very bland foods and slowly adds on different “challenge” foods to see if they create a reaction.
When foods contain avocado, it is usually evident, as this fruit is typically too expensive to use as a filler or hidden ingredient. Patients with an avocado allergy may want to be careful at locations like Mexican restaurants, where cross-contamination can occur as cooks work with guacamole and other dressings that may include this fruit. If there are any doubts about whether a dish contains avocado, the restaurant staff should be able to provide information and may be able to customize the order to have the kitchen leave this ingredient out.