Have you noticed itching and swelling after consuming a particular berry, more specifically blueberries? If yes, then you may be allergic to blueberries and you might not have known. This article will help you understand and manage blueberry allergy symptoms better.
A person may become allergic to blueberries at any point in their life. For some people, it is as mild as a rash, but for others, it may progress to a severe health issue requiring immediate medical attention. This article discusses blueberry allergies and ways to prevent adverse reactions when consuming blueberries.
What is a blueberry allergy?
People sensitive to salicylates are more likely to develop a blueberry allergy. According to nutritionists and experts, 100g of blueberries contain 27.6mg of salicylates. In salicylate intolerance or allergy, one is intolerant to synthetic and natural salicylates, such as those found in pain-relieving medications or many fruits, spices, or vegetables. Whether the allergy is mild or severe, people allergic to blueberries show various symptoms.
How to know if you are allergic to blueberries
Symptoms of blueberry allergy are very much similar to those of any other food allergy. They vary from person to person and may include a wide range of gastrointestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular symptoms. While one person may be experiencing only a mildly upset stomach, the other might have a rare symptom as severe as anaphylaxis. The most common symptoms of blueberry allergies are listed below.
- Colitis or intestinal or gut wall inflammation
- Drop-in blood pressure
- Itching, hives, or skin rash
- Nasal congestion
- Nasal polyps
- Runny nose
- Stomach pain or bloating
- Sudden or gradual changes in skin tone
- Trouble breathing or wheezing
- Vomiting or nausea
Some people have a lower intolerance to salicylates found in blueberries than others. Because of this, some people show allergic symptoms upon consuming just a slight amount of blueberries, while others can have a portion of blueberries once in a while.
Mild reactions to blueberry allergies include stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting, or mild rashes after ingesting a moderately large quantity of blueberries. The body’s inability to digest blueberries is the reason for stomachache. The rejection of the body’s immune system towards blueberries as a valuable source of nutrition presents as diarrhea or vomiting.
The rashes are the body’s response to allergens, which in this case are blueberries, and cause the production of histamines. Mild reactions can be taken care of at home, such as by taking over-the-counter antihistamines or by reducing consumption of blueberries in the future.
Stronger reactions, however, require immediate medical attention as they may progress to life-threatening symptoms easily. These usually occur quickly over a minor amount of blueberries consumed. These symptoms of blueberry allergies include swelling of soft tissues such as those inside the mouth, throat, on, or inside the lips.
If, after ingestion of blueberries, a person immediately displays difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, also referred to as dyspnea or wheezing, urgent treatment is required. If these symptoms persist, coupled with a severe drop in blood pressure, slurred speech, heart palpitations, or loss of consciousness, this indicates anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.
Risk factors of blueberry allergy
If unacceptable of salicylates, your immune system reacts adversely to the consumption of blueberries. This leads to inflammation of the gut, and in some cases, might result in inflammatory bowel syndrome. The following are the risk factors of developing blueberry allergy:
- People who have had a family history of salicylate/blueberry allergies
- Other allergies, such as those to pollen
- Young children under the age of 9 months
Babies under the age of 6 or 9 months do not have the enzymes in their bodies that are required to digest blueberries. Hence, it is advised to not feed them blueberries as part of their diet, which may cause them to become ill and develop an intolerance for blueberries in the future.
Managing your blueberry allergy
If you or someone you know are showing the allergy symptoms mentioned above after consuming blueberries, it is best to visit an allergist. Your doctor would likely prescribe a few tests to determine whether you have sensitivity to salicylates or a blueberry allergy. If your symptoms are anaphylaxis, we recommend seeking immediate medical attention as this could be fatal.
Upon diagnosing a blueberry allergy, you will have to avoid blueberry consumption. However, if you are diagnosed with salicylic sensitivity, you will have to avoid all cosmetics, creams, medications, and natural foodstuff that have salicylate in them. In case of severe blueberry allergy, your doctor will prescribe you to be equipped with an EpiPen or TwinJet at all times so you can treat yourself urgently upon consuming blueberries.
It is essential to make it a habit to read labels of anything you buy for any allergy information. Regardless of the product being your routine purchase, it is always best to look at the ingredients to make sure they do not have any blueberry additives or salicylates in them. When dining out, always let the manager or chef know about your blueberry allergy to avoid medical complications. If you are severely allergic to blueberries, wear a medical bracelet with you at all times, which lists all relevant information regarding your food allergy.
Alternatives to blueberries
We understand how being allergic to blueberries must be a complete bummer. Hence, here are a few substitutes for people with blueberry allergies who want to consume the same amount and quality of nutrients as they usually would via blueberries.
The closest thing to a blueberry in terms of flavor and shape is acai. Even though they are costly and are categorized as a superfood, they serve as a great alternative to blueberries. Other substitutes include blackberries, mulberries, huckleberry, raspberry, black or red currants, grapes, gooseberries, strawberries, passion fruit, and pomegranate.
While all these berries and fruits may suit you if you are simply allergic to blueberries, you will have to be careful if you have salicylate intolerance. Most of the alternatives to blueberries contain salicylates, such as raspberries, strawberries, grapes, and cherries.
Food allergies, though somewhat familiar, affect only 6-8% of children under the age of 3 and approximately 9% of adults. In every case of blueberry allergy, whether the symptoms are mild or severe, prevention is critical. If you notice that you may be showing blueberry intolerance symptoms, it is best to avoid the fruit entirely. This includes every product with blueberry in it, whether artificial blueberry extract or blueberry as a natural ingredient.
Although the severity of some food allergies lessens over time, researchers are still studying if that is the case with blueberry allergies as well. If you suspect even a slight food allergy, it is best to make an appointment with an allergist. They specialize in all sorts of intolerances and allergies and will help you manage your allergic symptoms. It is always safe to be diagnosed with an allergy early to prevent any severe mishaps in the future.