If an individual has an allergic reaction after consuming dried fruit, it is likely triggered by sulfites or mold. It is important to note that mold might be present in several dried fruits including figs, dates, raisins and prunes. As for sulfites, they are widely used as a preservative in dried fruit, but an individual can develop sensitivity to it. Even though fruit allergies are quite common, some individuals only react after eating or handling fresh, raw fruits since the drying process changes the proteins.
What is mold allergy?
All of us are exposed to mold on a daily basis, both in the air and in the foods eaten. In case an individual is allergic to mold, prolonged exposure can trigger symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, itchy eyes, runny or stuffed nose and skin rashes. Dried fruits have been a common source of mold. Other beverages and foods that might contain mold include cheese, mushrooms, beer, vinegar, pickled foods and yeast.
What is fructose intolerance?
If the individual experiences gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloating after eating dried fruit, the body has a hard time digesting fructose properly. This is a type of sugar that is naturally present in fruit and also utilized in sweetening various processed beverages and foods.
Fructose malabsorption is not harmful but can cause discomfort. Only a few individuals have hereditary fructose intolerance which is a rare but serious genetic condition in which the body does not have enough enzyme required to break down fructose. This condition is typically diagnosed among young children and can cause liver and kidney issues if not treated early.
Sulfites are often added to dried fruit as a preservative. It is estimated that a small percentage of individuals are highly sensitive to sulfites. Sensitivity can develop at any point in life and the possible causes are not known.
Sulfites are no longer used in fruits and vegetables that are eaten raw but can be used in shrimp, potatoes, wine, beer and some medications. The symptoms are strikingly similar to asthma and can range from mild wheezing to life-threatening anaphylaxis that entails immediate medical care.
Testing and diagnosis
Once you suspect that an individual has an allergy or intolerance, a doctor should be consulted. In some cases, the doctor will recommend an elimination diet or a skin or blood test. During a skin test, the skin is pricked and a small amount of the allergen is introduced. If the individual is highly allergic, a rash will develop. As for a blood test, the blood is analyzed for the presence of antibodies as a response to the allergen.
If an individual has mold allergy, the symptoms are relieved with nasal corticosteroids, decongestants and oral antihistamines. In some cases, allergy shots can help if the individual have mold-induced asthma.
For those who are highly sensitive to sulfites, a bronchodilator can help manage the symptoms. If the individual is susceptible to anaphylaxis, the doctor might recommend an epinephrine auto-injector that must be on-hand at all times.
The ideal way to prevent an allergic reaction to dried fruit is to avoid the trigger foods. It is vital to keep the house free from mold if the individual is allergic and check all foods carefully for any indications of mold.