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Can You Be Allergic To Watermelon ?

Updated on May 24, 2013

Watermelon Allergies

One out of three seasonal allergy sufferers will experience oral allergy syndrome. A syndrome where your immune system thinks that you are eating pollen when you are just eating a fruit or a vegetable. Here is an overview of the watermelon allergy.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Ragweed and Your Confused Immune System

It is possible to be allergic to fruit however this usually isn't the case with watermelon. You're not actually allergic to the watermelon. You are having an allergic response because your immune system is confused.

What is really happening is, you are having your pollen allergy symptoms in reaction to the protein inside the fruit. The very small proteins inside the melon are very much the same as pollen allergens to your immune system. You are having your hay fever symptoms, but there isn’t any pollen present in the fruit. But your immune system can’t tell the difference.

This example of cross-reactivity is associated to oral allergy syndrome -also referred to as OAS or pollen-food allergy syndrome. Some fruit proteins can be very similar in structure to some pollen allergens. In the case of watermelon, it is the mugwort and ragweed allergens that are confused with the protein molecules. The same protein can be found in other fruits like bananas, cantaloupe, cucumber and melon.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome

OAS reactions to :
Alder pollen
celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley, strawberry, raspberry
Birch pollen
avocados, bananas,hazel nuts, kiwifruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums,
Grass pollen
melons, tomatoes, oranges
Mugwort pollen
carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower
Ragweed pollen
banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini
*When you have allergy reaction to one food, it does not mean you should be allergic to the whole food group.

OAS Tips

  • Cook your fruits and vegetables

Most of these protein molecules will be destroyed when heated. This is why you usually have an allergic reaction when the fruit is raw and not when it is cooked. This is not true however for all fruits and vegetable. The protein found strawberries and celery for example are very heat resistant and you can still have allergic reactions after cooking them.

  • Try them in a can

They are also less symptoms when eating fruits or vegetables that are stored. You can have OAS symptoms while eating a raw peach but none with canned peaches for example.

Watermelon Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of watermelon allergies will be the ones associated to oral allergy syndrome :

  • Itching, burning swelling around the lips and mouth area.

  • Swelling up to the ear canal and pharynx

The symptoms can develop very rapidly, within seconds after eating the food. In most cases the allergens will not survive the pH of the stomach. This is why the allergy symptoms usually only appear around the mouth and throat. If they do survive digestion, the AOS symptoms can follow into diarrhea, indigestion and nausea.

It is rare that the reaction results in anaphylaxis (when the airway is so tight that it blocks the breathing ) Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you might have to avoid those fruits and vegetables altogether. Luckily, melons are easier to avoid than soy or gluten for example.

More on Food Allergies and Intolerance

Food Allergies For Dummies
Food Allergies For Dummies

Key information on food intolerance and allergies all presented in one book without being overwhelming.


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