Although pears have been used by some doctors to help patients with other fruit allergies, a pear allergy is still possible, though very uncommon.
Pear allergies occur when your immune system interacts with pear and perceives some of its proteins as being harmful. It then releases several substances throughout your body, primarily histamine and immunoglobulin E, to remove the allergen from your system. This is known as an allergic reaction.
The Mayo Clinic finds that food allergies affect approximately 6 to 8 percent of young children (under the age of 3) and up to 3 percent of adults.
Food allergies are sometimes confused with food intolerances. Intolerance is a much less serious condition and does not involve your immune system. Symptoms tend to be limited to issues with digestion.
With a food intolerance, you may still be able to consume small amounts of pear. For example, some people who are lactose intolerant can still eat cheese regularly because they’re able to take a lactase enzyme pill to make digestion easier.
Allergic reactions to pears can be triggered by the presence of a very small amount of the fruit. Reactions can vary in severity. Symptoms include:
- swelling of your face, tongue, lips, or throat
- itchy skin, including hives and eczema breakouts
- itching or tingling in your mouth
- wheezing, sinus congestion, or trouble breathing
- nausea or vomiting
People with severe pear allergies may also have a reaction known as anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- tightening of your airways
- swelling of the throat or tongue to the point that it’s difficult to breathe
- weak and rapid pulse
- severe drop in blood pressure, which may result in the person going into shock
- lightheadedness or dizziness
- loss of consciousness
If you’re experiencing pear allergy symptoms, there are a few steps you can take to relieve them, including:
- Prescription or over-the-counter antihistamine medications, like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), can help relieve several symptoms for minor reactions.
- If you’re at risk of having more severe reactions, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for an emergency epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen or Adrenaclick. These devices can deliver a life-saving, emergency dose of medication.
If you think that you may have developed a pear allergy, the best way to prevent a reaction is to avoid eating or drinking things that have pear in them. This includes food that’s prepared on a surface that has also been used to prepare pear.
For extreme allergies, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet so that people around you can help if a reaction is unexpectedly triggered.
Pollen-food syndrome, also known as oral allergy syndrome, occurs when allergens found in pollen are found in raw fruits (like pears), vegetables, or nuts.
When your immune system senses the presence of a potential allergen (similar to a pollen you’re allergic to) in your food, the allergens cross-react and trigger a reaction.
Symptoms and treatment of pollen-food syndrome
Pollen-food syndrome has similar symptoms to a food allergy. However, they tend to go away quickly once the food is swallowed or removed.
The following symptoms are usually confined to one area around your mouth, such as your tongue, lips, or throat:
Drinking a glass of water or eating a piece of bread may be helpful in neutralizing any of the above sensations.
Risk factors of pollen-food syndrome
If you’re allergic to certain types of pollen, you’re more likely to experience pollen-food syndrome while eating pears. However, you may be able to eat cooked pears without any reaction. This is because the proteins in food change when heated.
Other risk factors of pollen-food syndrome include:
- Being allergic to birch pollen. If you have a birch pollen allergy, you may experience a reaction to pears, apples, carrots, almonds, hazelnuts, celery, kiwis, cherries, peaches or plums.
- Your age. Pollen-food syndrome doesn’t usually appear in young children and is more common in teenagers or young adults.
- Eating the peel. Reactions tend to be more severe when consuming the peel of a fruit.
If you think that you’re having an allergic reaction to pears, set up an appointment with your doctor or an allergist. They can confirm your allergy through testing and explain the best way to handle your symptoms in the future.