The Fascinating World of Feijoa
The feijoa is a member of the myrtle family and has small oval-shaped fruit with a thick,leathery skin.The pulp inside ranges from white to green in color and contains numerous tiny black seeds.The taste is floral and is described as a cross between pineapple, strawberry and mango flavors.Feijoas are high in dietary fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.
More comprehensive information and care guidelines can be read here.
Understanding Allergic Reactions to Feijoa
Common symptoms of a feijoa allergy include skin reactions like rashes, hives, and itching, as well as respiratory reactions like asthma such as wheezing and trouble breathing. Oral allergy syndrome symptoms such as swollen lips and itchy mouth may also occur.
The allergic reactions happen when the immune system mistakenly identifies feijoa proteins as harmful substances and produces an overactive response known as hypersensitivity. People with feijoa allergies can experience:
- Mild reactions: limited to skin rashes and hives
- Moderate reactions: more extensive skin reactions, itchy and watery eyes
- Severe reactions: oral allergy syndrome, shortness of breath, low blood pressure and potentially life-threatening episodes of anaphylaxis
The most common triggers for feijoa allergies are:
- Eating the fruit itself, especially for the first time
- Touching parts of the plant like the leaves, peels, or seeds after the fruit has ripened
- Inhaling airborne pollen from the feijoa tree during flowering season
Allergic reactions to feijoa can develop at any age. The risks tend to be higher in people with existing allergies to tree pollen, latex or other foods. Cross-reactivity between feijoa and related fruits like avocado, kiwifruit and banana has also been observed in some individuals.
Identifying Symptoms and Common Triggers
Allergic reactions to feijoa can be triggered by several routes of exposure:
Eating the fruit: Consuming the feijoa fruit is the most common trigger of allergic symptoms like itching, hives, and swelling of the lips and mouth. This is especially true for first-time consumption.
Touching plant parts: Handling feijoa leaves, peels, or seeds, especially after the fruit has ripened, can cause skin reactions through contact with fruit proteins and allergens.
Inhaling pollen:Airborne feijoa pollen from the tree during flowering season is another potential trigger, causing allergic rhinitis symptoms like sneezing and runny nose in sensitive individuals.
The most severe allergic reactions to feijoa involve multiple symptoms that affect breathing and overall health. These include:
- Swelling of the tongue, throat, and vocal folds
- Difficulty swallowing
- Wheezing and trouble breathing
- Dizziness, weakness, and loss of consciousness
- A dangerous drop in blood pressure called anaphylactic shock
These severe reactions require immediate epinephrine treatment and emergency medical attention. They are more likely in individuals with a history of food allergies or other atopic conditions.
In summary, eating feijoa fruit is the most common allergy trigger, followed by contact with plant parts after ripening and inhalation of tree pollen during flowering. Severe reactions affecting breathing and blood pressure require prompt epinephrine auto-injector use and medical intervention.
Seeking Relief: Managing Feijoa Allergies
For those with feijoa allergies, there are several strategies to help reduce symptoms and avoid severe reactions:
Avoidance: The most effective way to manage a feijoa allergy is to avoid eating the fruit and contacting plant parts. Cutting out feijoa completely can help reduce exposure to allergens that trigger symptoms.
Antihistamines: Over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine and loratadine can provide relief from mild allergic symptoms like skin itchiness, runny nose and sneezing.
Epinephrine auto-injector: For severe, life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis, using an epinephrine auto-injector as soon as possible is critical. The epinephrine can reverse airway swelling and address low blood pressure to stabilize the patient until emergency help arrives.
See an allergist: Seeing a board-certified allergist can help confirm a feijoa allergy through tailored testing. The allergist can also prescribe stronger medications to manage symptoms and create a customized care plan.
Avoid during flowering season: During the feijoa tree flowering season when pollen levels peak, allergic individuals should avoid visiting areas where feijoa trees grow to limit inhaled exposures.
Wear a medical alert: Allergic patients should consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace indicating their feijoa allergy. This can help emergency responders provide the right treatment quickly in case of severe reactions.
In summary, complete avoidance of the feijoa fruit and plant is the only guaranteed way to prevent allergic reactions. Antihistamines help control mild symptoms, while epinephrine auto-injectors are critical for anaphylaxis. Allergic patients should see an allergist and wear a medical alert to ensure the best care.
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