Can Eating Watermelon Or Cantaloupe Trigger Asthma Attacks?

Question

Asked by Calypso4811

Can Eating Watermelon Or Cantaloupe Trigger Asthma Attacks?

I've never had allergy testing, but it is obvious I have allergic reactions to certain pollens. I have noticed that when I eat watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, and possibly, nectarines, I begin experiencing asthma problems.

My asthma is generally very mild and, it seems, only acts up when certain allergens are present.

Does any of that sound familiar? What does one do? Treat the allergy or the asthma?

Answer

Hi Calypso,

Asthma is often triggered by allergic or irritant factors suspended in the air. Viruses are also common triggers of asthma. Some people that are allergic to foods may have worse asthma after eating the specific food.

Cantaloupe and melons are often the cause of throat and mouth itching that occurs from cross-reactivity of these fruits with certain pollens. This is called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Learn more about OAS by clicking on this link: OAS

You may not have OAS because the symptoms seem asthma based. You should have allergy testing to confirm allergic hypersensitivity. This should be done by a board-certified allergist. The allergist may consider ordering a blood test for allergy first.

It is important to avoid any foods that have triggered asthma symptoms until you have had an allergy work-up. That includes all melons (honeydew as well), raisins in addition to grapes and nectarines.

Your allergist may prescribe a device for self injection of Epinephrine. The epinephrine is used in case of accidental ingestion of an allergic food. Severe asthma or anaphylaxis may occur with future exposure to a food that a person is highly allergic to. Learn more about anaphylaxis here: Anaphylaxis

Final comments: For now, avoid all foods that have triggered asthma or other allergy symptoms. See a board certified allergist at your earliest convenience to help definitively determine just what you're allergic to, if anything.

Good Luck!

J. Thompson, MD

Answered by James Thompson, MD