While cantaloupe is known to have several nutritious benefits, it may trigger an allergic reaction in some people.

If you’re allergic to cantaloupe, this means your immune system reacts to a substance in the melon as harmful. It releases substances that work to get the allergen out of your system, which produce the tell-tale symptoms of an allergic reaction.

The Mayo Clinic estimates food allergies affect 6 to 8 percent of children 3 years old and younger and 3 percent of adults.

Read on to learn more about a cantaloupe allergy and ways to prevent and treat allergic reactions.

Reactions can vary in severity. They can be triggered by the presence of a very small amount of cantaloupe or other melons. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

People who are very allergic to cantaloupe can also experience a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms include:

  • constriction of airways
  • serious tongue or throat swelling that interferes with breathing
  • critical drop in blood pressure that could lead to shock
  • weak pulse
  • rapid pulse
  • dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness

Seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing any symptoms of anaphylaxis. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can result in coma or death.

While there’s no cure for a food allergy yet, there are several steps you can take to prevent a reaction from occurring. Follow these steps:

  • Avoid eating or drinking things that have cantaloupe in them.
  • Always be aware of what you’re eating and drinking, especially at restaurants. If you’re unsure whether a dish contains cantaloupe, ask your server.
  • Make sure your food is prepared on a surface that isn’t also used to prepare melon, especially cantaloupe.
  • Ask your doctor about prescription or over-the-counter allergy medications, like cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin).

Food allergies may be confused with food intolerance. Intolerance doesn’t involve your immune system and isn’t as serious. Symptoms are usually limited to issues with digestion. You may even still be able to eat small amounts of cantaloupe.

Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is when your immune system senses pollen and similar proteins you’re allergic to in your food. These substances can cross-react and trigger an allergic reaction. OAS is also known as pollen-food syndrome.

A 2003 study suggests that most people who report allergic symptoms with cantaloupe likely have OAS, too.

If you’re allergic to certain types of pollen and eat cantaloupe, you may experience OAS. Risk factors include:

  • Age. OAS is more common in teenagers and young adults. It typically doesn’t appear in young children.
  • Allergy to ragweed pollen. You may experience a reaction when eating foods associated with ragweed pollen, such as melons (including cantaloupe), bananas, zucchini, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds.
  • Allergy to grass pollen. You may experience a reaction when eating foods associated with grass pollen, such as melons (including cantaloupe), celery, peaches, oranges, and tomato.

The symptoms of OAS are similar to those of a food allergy, but are usually mild and confined to an area around your mouth. Symptoms include:

  • tingling or itching of the mouth or throat
  • swelling of throat, lips, mouth, or tongue
  • itchy ears

Symptoms tend to go away quickly once the food is swallowed or taken out of your mouth. Consuming something neutral, like a piece of bread or glass of water, can help speed this process.

You may be able to eat cantaloupe without any reaction when it’s cooked. This is because the proteins in your food change when heated.

If this is your first time experiencing allergy symptoms after eating cantaloupe, consider setting up an appointment with your doctor or an allergist. They can performs tests to confirm your allergy and explain various preventative and treatment options.