Just by eating citrus fruit, have you ever experienced allergy-like symptoms? These symptoms include watery eyes, a runny nose, and rashes on the skin. Along with the appearance of hives, you could feel some tingling in your lips and tongue. As the allergy grows more severe, your voice could become hoarse and your throat would tighten. In some cases, these would also be accompanied by symptoms of nausea, vomiting diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
What we’ve just described are some of the common symptoms exhibited by a case of true citrus allergy. At present, there’s no known cure for this particular type of allergy, other than avoiding those foods which trigger its symptoms.
Still on symptoms, the onset of a true allergy would most likely occur within a few seconds or minutes of exposure to the allergen. It might even take a few hours, depending on how much you were exposed to and how fast your immune system reacts.
The real allergen is the fruit itself. To name a few, some of these fruits include lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, clementines, grapefruit, and pomelo.
Citric acid allergy
Because fruits are basically acidic in property, they may also cause citric acid allergy in some people. If you happen to be one of them, you’ve been observed to be particularly sensitive to the presence of citric acid.
Citric acid is a substance present in so many foods, drugs, and beverages. It’s also part of so many cosmetics and skin care products. Usually, they would be labeled as citrus extracts or citric acid preservatives like sodium citrate and potassium citrate.
Citric acid intolerance
On the other hand, there’s citric acid intolerance. This condition occurs and recurs when your body’s unable to digest and metabolize the citric acid found in food.
Comparing citric acid intolerance with citrus allergy, the symptoms of the former appear and develop only after some time. The former also depends on the quantity of food eaten. Whereas only a small amount of fruit is enough to trigger allergy, it could be high citric acid content which you’re specifically intolerant to. Clearly, these spell a difference in diagnosing whether it’s a true allergy or a case of intolerance.
Substances added to food
So far, we’ve seen that you can be allergic to citrus fruit, sensitive to citric acid, and intolerant of high levels of acidity. These present a whole new range of problems which challenge you to get to the very root of your problem.
There’s a fourth condition, though. The irritation could also arise, not from substances which are naturally occurring in citrus fruits, but from other ingredients which get to be added to food. Some of these foods include sourdough bread, soda, vinegar, wine, and cheese. Also in this list are jams, fruits preserves, and canned goods like tomatoes or fruit cocktail. Unless otherwise diagnosed, these can be interpreted as less of allergy and more of food sensitivity.
Aside from food sensitivity, it may also be a side effect which triggers an allergy-like reaction. Take too much vitamin C supplements, for instance. Synthetic and commercially-manufactured, these supplements may contain inactive ingredients which trigger an allergic reaction in you. In response, your body overreacts by producing Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to combat what’s perceived to be an attack.
Thus, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) recommends taking in no more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C a day. Actually, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for the average adult would be at 75-90 mg only. Overdo the dosage especially on an empty stomach and you just might feel the symptoms of something similar to a citrus allergy. But now, you know better!
A matter of prevention
Before you even buy food products, read their labels and examine their contents. Their ingredients and nutritional facts should tell you what citrus fruits they’re made of and how much citric acid they contain.
And unless you need to be completely citrus-free, eat these fruits peeled and sliced. This allows you to regulate your intake by eating only in small portions. If still you exhibit the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, then have yourself evaluated and tested for a true citrus allergy.