Passionfruit Allergy: Symptoms And Solutions

  • Saba Amber BSc, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

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Introduction

The woody, climbing, evergreen passion fruit vine can reach a height of nine meters. The fruit is almost spherical/ovoid and is around 4-7.5 cm in width. Its rind is waxy, smooth, and dark purple with white specks, or light yellow or orange. There is a chamber behind a thin layer of white pith that contains up to 250 small, hard, pitted seeds and a fragrant mass of membranous sacs packed with pulpy, orange-coloured juice. The flavour is sub-acid to acidic, musky, and most closely resembles guava.

Most of the tropical and subtropical world, including Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Jamaica, South Africa, Malaya, Fiji, and Hawaii, is home to passion fruit growers. However, the plant has shown to be extremely susceptible to disease, which has slowed the growth of plantations and the commercial market.

Most individuals can consume passion fruit without problems, but some individuals may have allergies. It seems that people who are allergic to latex are more likely to develop a passion fruit allergy. This is because parts of the fruit's plant proteins resemble latex proteins in structure, which in certain individuals might produce an allergic reaction. The skin of purple passion fruit may also have substances known as cyanogenic glycosides. These are potentially toxic in high concentrations and can interact with enzymes to generate the toxin cyanide. The fruit's tough outer skin is typically regarded as inedible and is not consumed.

Symptoms

Mild signs and symptoms

  • Itching
  • Redness on the skin
  • Rash or hives

More severe signs and symptoms

Among them are:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • eyes that are wet and itchy
  • irritable throat
  • breathing difficulties
  • wheezing
  • Cough

Signs that are potentially fatal: 

Anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction to latex, is the most dangerous reaction. In individuals who are particularly allergic to latex, an anaphylactic reaction occurs right away after exposure. That seldom occurs, though, the first time you are exposed.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives or swelling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Wheezing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid or weak pulse

Causes 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has not formally included any particular allergies to their allergen nomenclature database for passion fruit. However, there has been research which demonstrates the fruit contains both chitinase and hevein proteins. Both of these proteins have been linked to latex allergy.

When you have a latex allergy, your body produces specific antibodies to combat the allergen because it perceives latex as dangerous. These antibodies alert your immune system to release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream the next time you come into contact with latex. Many symptoms of allergies are brought on by this mechanism. Your immune system is likely to react more severely the more times you are exposed to latex. We refer to this as sensitisation.

Diagnosis 

Oral dietary challenges:

  • Describe your experience with a supervised passion fruit exposure
  • Keeping an eye out for allergic reactions during the task

The hallmark evaluation and medical history:

  • Compiling comprehensive data on previous responses
  • Recognising trends and catalysts

Dietary elimination:

  • Foods containing passion fruit should be temporarily removed.
  • Methodical reintroduction under medical guidance

Clinical factors for cross-reactivity:

  • Examining possible sensitivity to associated allergens
  • Working together with allergists to provide thorough testing

Difficulties and restrictions in diagnosing:

  • Complexities of cross-reactivity
  • Individual Response Variability

Passion fruit allergy test

Although it hasn't been properly assessed, extensive cross-reactivity between the various individual species within the genus is probably to be expected. The key protein associated with cross-reactions in latex-fruit allergy syndrome has been identified as a class I chitinase; this protein is found in passion fruit, cherimoya, kiwi, papaya, mango, tomato, and wheat. There is evidence of cross-reactivity between passion fruit and latex that is clinically significant. Cross-reactivity between apricot, avocado, banana, cherry, chestnut, grape, kiwi, papaya, passion fruit, peach, and pineapple has been documented in children. Repeated latex contact increases the likelihood of severe allergic reactions in healthcare workers with coexisting risk factors, such as atopy and food allergies (chestnut, banana, avocado, passion fruit, celery, potato, and peach).

Case study

After consuming a can of mango and passion fruit juice, a 36-year-old patient allegedly developed generalised urticaria, oropharyngeal pruritus, tongue swelling, dysphagia, dysphonia, cough, rhinorrhea, sneezing, lacrimation, and ocular irritation.

Prevention 

Awareness of cross-reactivity:

  • Being aware of typical allergies associated with passion fruit
  • Consulting allergists for advice on associated sensitivities
  • Teaching peers and caregivers:
  • Notifying friends, family, and teachers about the allergy
  • Providing detailed guidance on managing possible allergic  responses  in writing

Changes to an allergen-free lifestyle:

  • Whenever feasible, opt for products devoid of allergens
  • Taking other fruits and ingredients into account when creating recipes

Travel-related considerations:

  • When travelling to new regions, researching local foods and ingredients
  • Keeping medical wristbands or allergy alert cards on hand in case of emergencies

Management and treatment 

Auto-injectors of epinephrine for severe reactions:

  • The significance of timely dosing in cases of anaphylaxis
  • Guidelines for using and storing epinephrine devices correctly

Plan of action for emergencies:

  • Creation of a customised strategy in collaboration with medical specialists
  • Unambiguous instructions for identifying and handling allergic reactions

Considering immunotherapy:

  • Overview of immunotherapy targeted to allergens
  • Possibility of helping those who are allergic to passion fruit become desensitised

Psychological assistance and counselling:

  • Addressing the psychological effects of having a dietary allergy
  • Promoting candid conversation and, when necessary, seeking expert assistance

Continual communication with medical professionals:

  • Keeping an eye on and modifying treatment regimens as necessary
  • Working together with allergists to provide continuing advice

Summary

Allergies to passion fruit are frequently brought on by the fruits' proteins. An allergic reaction results from the body's immune system mistaking these proteins for something dangerous. Common symptoms can include gastrointestinal problems like nausea or stomach pain, as well as skin irritation, redness, or swelling.

Anaphylaxis, a swift and severe allergic reaction impacting several systems, can result from severe passion fruit allergies. Breathing difficulties, a decrease in blood pressure, and unconsciousness are signs of anaphylaxis. In cases like these, administering epinephrine right away is essential.

Given the possibility of cross-reactivity with other fruits, such as kiwis, or latex allergy, it's critical to be aware of potential triggers. An allergist's allergy testing can assist in pinpointing particular sensitivities and direct individualised care plans.

Although desensitisation therapies for food allergies are still being researched, these methods are not yet generally accessible. Thus, the best course of action is still avoidance; people who have allergies to passion fruits should also keep themselves informed, carry the required medications, and seek expert assistance for complete allergy management.

In conclusion, the symptoms of a passion fruit allergy, which include swelling, itching, and breathing problems, can range from moderate to severe. It's important to stay away from passion fruit and to get medical help right away if you have a reaction. Always seek the counsel of a medical expert for specific guidance and possible remedies for the management of passion fruit allergies.

References

  1. Helen West RD. Passion fruit: Nutrition, benefits, and how to eat it [Internet]. Healthline. 2019 [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/passion-fruit
  2. F294 passion fruit [Internet]. Thermo Fisher Scientific. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.thermofisher.com/phadia/wo/en/resources/allergen-encyclopedia/whole-allergens.html?key=f294
  3. Latex allergy [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/latex-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20374287
  4. JD. Passion fruit allergy [Internet]. Allergyresources.co.uk. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.allergyresources.co.uk/Passion-Fruit.php
  5. Passion fruit allergy test [Internet]. London Allergy & Immunology Centre. [cited 2024 Jan 11]. Available from: https://foodallergytest.co.uk/product/passion-fruit-allergy-test/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Anit Joseph

BAMS, Ayurvedic Medicine/Ayurveda, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences

Anit Joseph is a skilled Ayurvedic practitioner with a Bachelor's degree from Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences. She excels in diagnosis, herbal remedies, and personalized treatment plans, aiming to empower her clients to achieve holistic wellness through Ayurveda.

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