One in five Americans suffer from allergies, and about 200 people die of food allergies each year in the United States. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, about 6% of people with allergies suffer from food allergies. The most common food allergies are to soy, milk, wheat, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts, but you may also be allergic to other foods, such as plums. If you are allergic to plums, you may also develop allergies to other fruits.
Plums are related to almonds, which are classified as nuts. The other fruits of this family are peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries and prunes. Plums are a genus of the rose family, which includes about 400 species, according to the pollen library. Other nuts include cashews, walnuts and nuts, advises Dr. Scott H. Sicherererer, a researcher at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute.
If you have an allergy to birch pollen, you may develop an allergy to plum. Plum protein is similar to the birch pollen protein to which you react. This is called birch syndrome, according to the European Union’s InformAll database. Symptoms can also be called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). These symptoms usually appear within 15 minutes of consuming a raw plum. They most often include local reactions of itching and swelling in the throat and mouth. In rare cases, symptoms of OAS can be life-threatening, such as anaphylaxis. According to CNN Health, an anaphylactic reaction can lead to low blood pressure, airway obstruction and other symptoms. The molecule or allergen that causes SV does not survive cooking. This means that you will be able to tolerate cooked plums but not raw ones, advise InformAll’s experts.
If you have OAS, you can develop reactions to many other foods, says pediatric allergist Anthony Ham Pong, of Ottawa, Ontario. These include pears, apples, apricots, bananas, cherries, melons, nuts such as hazelnuts and vegetables such as celery or carrots, according to InformAll. There is often a cross-reaction with other foods due to exposure to birch pollen, advises Dr Flemming Andersen from the United Kingdom.
You may have a different and more severe type of plum allergy than OAS or birch syndrome. If so, you may also be allergic to peaches. Symptoms may include SV as well as hives, vomiting, abdominal pain and life-threatening symptoms. Life-threatening reactions can include swelling of the throat, shortness of breath and anaphylaxis, says Pong. This type of reaction is likely to be more serious if you eat plums in the shell. The allergen that causes this type of reaction survives cooking and processing, like juice, so you won’t be able to eat cooked plums, according to InformAll. You are also likely to develop reactions to apples, apricots, cherries and nuts, such as nuts and hazelnuts, if you have this type of allergy.
It is not necessary to consume a plum to have any reaction. Handling a raw plum, such as peeling it, can cause a rash, itching or swelling where the juice touches your skin. It can also lead to runny nose, sneezing and tearing, or more severe and life-threatening symptoms, M. Pong.
If you suspect plum allergy, tell your doctor about your symptoms. Your doctor may ask you to keep a diary or try a disposal diet. He or she can also perform a blood test or a puncture test in which small amounts of plum and other suspicious foods are introduced into your skin, which is then perforated with a needle, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The best treatment for plum allergy is to avoid this food. There is no proven treatment that can prevent an allergy attack or reduce symptoms, say experts at the Mayo Clinic. If your allergic reactions are minor, take antihistamines with you to help reduce symptoms if exposed.
However, they are not good for treating serious reactions. If your reaction is severe, always carry an auto-injector containing epinephrine with you at all times, or you may need a visit to the emergency room in case of a reaction.