Cross-reactivity allergies: This little-known phenomenon may affect you

If you are already affected by a respiratory allergy, you may have a higher than average chance of developing a cross-allergy. But what is this unknown phenomenon?

Cross-reactivity allergies: This little-known phenomenon may affect you
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Cross-reactivity allergies: This little-known phenomenon may affect you

As spring has begun, so has the allergy season and the number of people being affected by this condition is only increasing. In fact, according to the European Federation Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations, ‘respiratory allergies are increasing worldwide, particularly in children’.

If you’re one of the millions of people who dread the arrival of spring, you should know that another relatively unknown phenomenon should also be brought to your attention—cross-reactivity allergies.

What are cross-reactivity allergies?

People who are already allergic to certain substances are more likely to have greater sensitivity to other substances that are of the same family with similar allergens. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says:

Cross-reactivity in allergic reactions occurs when the proteins in one substance (typically pollen) are similar to the proteins found in another substance (typically a food).

This phenomenon is most common in those who are allergic to pollen. These people are three times more likely to develop a food allergy at the same time. And in most cases, the respiratory allergy appears before the food allergy.

Difficult to diagnose cross-reactivity allergies

For example, if a person is allergic to grass pollen, they are more likely to develop an allergy to peanuts, wheat flour, melons, or oranges. However, keep in mind that not all cross-reactivity allergies are caused by respiratory allergies. It has also been observed within food families. So, a person who is allergic to peaches is also likely to be allergic to apricots, almonds, cherries, plums, or apples.

Unfortunately, cross-reactivity allergies are hard to identify, especially given the high seasonality of most respiratory allergies. In addition, the reactions are often mild—tingling in the mouth and throat—and can go unnoticed. More severe symptoms of this condition include oedema, conjunctivitis, rhinitis, and asthma.

This article has been translated from Gentside FR.

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