Nobody likes allergies.
In fact, a recent study from Cornell University’s Survey Research Institute found that up to 59% of travelers would choose a hotel based on the availability, or lack thereof, allergen-friendly rooms. Though most people associate Florida with the hot summer season, allergy season in the Sunshine State can be brutal — especially if you’re allergic to one of the state’s popular cash crops, the mango.
In 2016, approximately 5.3% of kids between the ages of 12 and 17 had food allergies. Although mango allergies are quite rare, they can be just as uncomfortable — and dangerous — as your traditional food allergens. Let’s take a look at the three ways they manifest.
- Oral Allergy Syndrome: Known by its acronym OAS, oral allergy syndrome is easily recognized. As a result of similarities in the proteins found in mangoes and pollens (most often birch pollen or mugwort pollen), the body expresses a reaction almost immediately after a piece of fresh fruit has been consumed. Most often, it resolves itself without treatment in minutes but can be fairly uncomfortable.
- Contact Dermatitis: Due to a specific substance found in plants of the Anacardiaceae (called urushiol), contact reaction can result as well. Urushiol is the substance that causes rashes from poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, meaning that your child will experience a similar rash — generally on the face — within hours of eating the mango fruit. The chemical is found in high concentrations in the peel and the fruit just beneath the peel, causing small, itchy blisters to form on those who come into contact with it.
- Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is the most extreme form of an allergic reaction. The response occurs within minutes of eating the fruit and can include difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, facial swelling, and tightness of the throat. Those at risk of anaphylaxis should always carry injectable epinephrine in the event of accidental exposure to mango or any cross-reactive substance.
Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. Most people associate allergies with microscopic pollen or animal shedding; while it’s true that pet dander can seriously irritate your sinuses (animal cells are between 0.001 to 0.003 centimeters in diameter, making it exceptionally easy for them to travel into your system), food allergies can do just as much harm and cause just as much inconvenience. Vigilance is key as the summer steps into full swing; if you notice odd sensations or feel uncomfortable when eating mangoes, an iconic and enjoyable part of the warm season, it’s best to talk to your doctor. At the end of the day, it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry — especially if your allergy is severe enough to cause a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction.