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A pineapple allergy is a rare allergic reaction to the flesh and juice of the pineapple. It can manifest as tingling or jolting of the tongue and lips, redness around the mouth, or gastrointestinal discomfort. Sometimes an allergy to pineapple can cause more serious symptoms, like wheezing and difficulty breathing, which require a visit to a hospital emergency room. An allergic reaction happens when the body’s immune system treats the protein in an allergen as a foreign invader, producing immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies and histamine, the substance responsible for allergic symptoms.
Although different from a true pineapple allergy, pineapple is one of the fruits that can cause a reaction in oral allergy syndrome (OAS). This is a cross-reaction that causes oral tingling and mouth redness in sufferers of hay fever when they ingest certain fruits. In keeping with its name, OAS causes oral symptoms only, not the wider range of respiratory symptoms present in hay fever. Sometimes people with OAS can ingest pineapple juice or canned pineapple without symptoms, but not fresh pineapple.
There are a variety of symptoms associated with an allergy to pineapple. Symptoms may include difficult breathing; swelling of the face, nose, or throat; or skin redness or swelling. Other symptoms, such as headaches, stomach pains, or diarrhea, may also occur. The symptoms and severity of a pineapple allergy vary between individuals and range from mild to life threatening.
A pineapple allergy is considered to be rare because it is not among the list of the eight most common food allergies, which cause up to 90 percent of allergic reactions in children and adults. These include cow’s milk, peanuts, and shellfish. As pineapple is not among these, it is important to see a doctor for an allergy test to determine if the allergy is really a reaction to another food. A doctor will test for allergies by pricking the skin with a needle that contains one of several potential allergens. After several minutes, the skin will redden if the substance is a true allergen.
There is no cure for a pineapple allergy or for food allergies in general and no pill to prevent a reaction. Diligent avoidance of the allergen is the only way to control it. In extreme cases, where pineapple allergy causes an anaphylactic reaction, the sufferer may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector pen in case of accidental ingestion. Even though allergies aren’t curable, they may appear or disappear suddenly throughout a person’s life. A person who is allergic to pineapple at one point may either lose her allergy, or the allergy can become more severe later.
How soon after you think you're allergic to fresh pineapples should you consult a doctor?