Cherry Allergy: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options

Wyndly Care Team
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Can you be allergic to cherries?

Yes, it's possible to be allergic to cherries. Symptoms can range from mild ones like itching and swelling in the mouth or throat, to severe reactions like difficulty breathing, hives, and anaphylaxis. Consult with a healthcare provider if you suspect a cherry allergy.

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Can You Be Allergic to Cherries?

Yes, it's possible to be allergic to cherries. This type of food allergy, while not as common as others, can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe. Cherry allergy is often associated with a condition known as Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Cherry allergy can be primary or secondary. Primary cherry allergy occurs when the immune system reacts directly to proteins in the cherry itself. Secondary cherry allergy, on the other hand, is a cross-reactivity phenomenon. It happens when the immune system mistakes similar proteins found in cherries for those present in certain pollens, such as birch or grass pollen.

People with cherry allergy can experience symptoms ranging from itching or swelling in the mouth and throat, hives, to more severe reactions like difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. It's important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary from person to person and even from one episode to another in the same individual.

Interestingly, some people may only be allergic to raw cherries and not cooked ones. This is because the heat from cooking can denature the proteins that cause the allergic reaction, rendering them non-reactive. However, this is not always the case and some individuals may still react to cooked cherries.

Finally, those with cherry allergy may also react to other fruits and nuts due to cross-reactivity. This is known as the Pollen-Fruit Syndrome. Commonly cross-reactive foods include apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, and almonds. It's essential to be aware of these potential triggers to manage the allergy effectively.

Remember, if you suspect you or a loved one may have a cherry allergy, consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What Is a Food Allergy?

A food allergy is a hypersensitive immune response to certain proteins found in food. The immune system mistakes these proteins as harmful invaders, leading to various symptoms. It's not limited to just certain foods like cherries; potential allergens can be found in various types of food.

Food allergies can manifest in several ways. Some people might experience mild symptoms like itching or hives, while others might suffer from severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention. Common symptoms can include itching or swelling in the mouth, stomach pain, diarrhea, skin rashes, and difficulty breathing.

Certain foods are more likely to cause allergies than others. In adults, common food allergens include shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and wheat. Children are often allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat. However, any food can potentially cause an allergic reaction.

It's important to note that food allergies are different from food intolerances. While the symptoms can sometimes overlap, food intolerance is generally less severe and doesn't involve the immune system. For example, lactose intolerance is due to the body's inability to digest lactose, not an allergic reaction to it.

In the context of our discussion on cherry allergies, it's key to remember that having a cherry allergy means your immune system overreacts to proteins found in cherries. Similar to how tree pollen allergies function, your body sees these proteins as threats and triggers an immune response. If you suspect you have a food allergy, it's crucial to consult a healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

What Is the Difference Between Primary and Secondary Cherry Allergy?

Primary and secondary cherry allergies refer to two distinct types of allergic reactions to cherries. The main difference lies in the allergen that triggers the response: in primary cherry allergy, the immune system reacts to proteins in the cherry itself, while in secondary cherry allergy, the reaction is to proteins similar to those found in tree pollen.

Primary Cherry Allergy

In primary cherry allergy, the immune system identifies proteins in cherries as harmful, triggering an allergic reaction. This reaction is not linked to any other allergies and is caused by direct sensitivity to cherries. Symptoms can range from mild, such as itching or hives, to severe, potentially leading to anaphylaxis. As with any food allergy, those suspected of having a primary cherry allergy should consult a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options.

Secondary Cherry Allergy

Secondary cherry allergy, also known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS), occurs when the immune system confuses the proteins in cherries with those found in certain tree pollens. As a result, individuals who are allergic to trees such as alder, beech, or pecan might also react to cherries. Symptoms usually involve the mouth and throat, such as itching, swelling, and allergic reactions on the lips. As these symptoms are typically milder and subside quickly, secondary cherry allergies are often less severe than primary ones.

What Are the Symptoms of a Cherry Allergy?

Cherry allergy symptoms vary in severity and can affect different parts of the body. They typically manifest shortly after consuming the fruit, OAS in the case of secondary cherry allergy.

The common symptoms include itching or tingling in the mouth and throat, which is a hallmark sign of OAS. More severe reactions may lead to hives, swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat, and difficulty breathing. In rare cases, a cherry allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

People with a cherry allergy might also experience symptoms similar to pollen allergies, such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and throat irritation. This is particularly common in secondary cherry allergy, where the immune system confuses proteins in cherries with those found in certain tree pollens like alder, beech, or pecan trees.

It's crucial to seek medical advice if you experience any of these symptoms after consuming cherries. A healthcare provider can make an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options.

How Do Doctors Diagnose a Cherry Allergy?

Doctors typically diagnose a cherry allergy using a combination of patient history, physical examination, and specific allergy tests. The process begins with a detailed discussion about the symptoms, their onset, and any potential links to dietary intake or environmental exposure.

The first step in the diagnosis process is taking a detailed patient history. The doctor may ask about the food you ate before the onset of symptoms, the duration of symptoms, and any previous history of allergies or asthma. If a cherry allergy is suspected, your doctor may recommend an allergy skin test or a blood test. Both tests measure your immune system's response to cherry proteins.

In an allergy skin test, a small amount of cherry extract is applied to your skin using a tiny needle. If you're allergic, you'll develop a raised bump or hive at the test location on your skin. Blood tests, on the other hand, measure the amount of specific antibodies, called IgE antibodies, that your body may make in response to cherry proteins.

In some cases, your doctor may also recommend an oral food challenge, which is considered the gold standard for diagnosing food allergies. This test must be conducted under medical supervision due to the risk of severe allergic reactions. It involves consuming gradually increasing amounts of cherry to see if symptoms develop.

Remember, self-diagnosis can be risky. If you suspect you have a cherry allergy, it's crucial to seek professional medical advice. Proper diagnosis can help manage symptoms and prevent severe allergic reactions.

What Are the Treatments for Cherry Allergy?

There are several treatment options available for managing cherry allergy. These include medications, avoidance strategies, and sublingual immunotherapy. The appropriate treatment depends on the severity of your symptoms and your doctor's recommendations.


Medications for cherry allergy may include antihistamines, corticosteroids, and epinephrine. Antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and runny nose. Corticosteroids are often used to reduce inflammation and can be particularly helpful for managing skin reactions like hives. For severe reactions, an epinephrine auto-injector may be prescribed. Always consult your doctor for the right medication for your symptoms, and remember that medications can help manage symptoms but do not cure the allergy.


Avoidance is the primary method of managing a cherry allergy. This involves eliminating cherries and cherry-containing products from your diet. Be sure to check food labels carefully, as cherries can be a hidden ingredient in some products. Be cautious of cross-reactivity with other foods in the same family as cherries, such as peaches and plums. It might be useful to consult a dietitian to ensure that you are maintaining a balanced diet while avoiding cherries.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a treatment option that involves placing a small amount of the allergen under the tongue. Over time, this can help your immune system become less reactive to the allergen, reducing the severity of your symptoms. This approach may be especially beneficial for those with severe or persistent symptoms. However, this treatment should always be supervised by a healthcare professional due to the risk of severe allergic reactions. As with any treatment, consult your healthcare provider to determine if SLIT is a suitable option for you.

Managing a cherry allergy can be challenging, but with the right treatment plan, it's possible to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you suspect you have a cherry allergy, seek medical advice to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

What Foods Should You Avoid If You Have a Cherry Allergy?

If you have a cherry allergy, you should avoid not only raw cherries but also any food or beverage that contains cherries or cherry flavorings. This includes cherry pie, cherry jam, cherry soda, and even some alcoholic beverages.

It's important to read food labels carefully, as cherries can be found in unexpected places. For instance, they may be used as a flavoring in candy, yogurt, or baked goods. Additionally, some sauces and marinades might contain cherry juice or extracts.

While cherries are the primary concern, you also need to be aware of potential cross-reactivity with other fruits and nuts. Many people with cherry allergies also react to other fruits in the Rosaceae family, such as apples, peaches, plums, and apricots. Cross-reactivity can also occur with some tree nuts like almonds. This is due to a phenomenon known as Oral Allergy Syndrome, where proteins in these fruits and nuts closely resemble those in cherries, triggering a similar allergic response.

Don't forget to exercise caution when dining out. Inform your server of your allergy, as cherries could be an ingredient in dishes you might not expect. Also, be aware of potential cross-contamination in the kitchen. Cherry allergies can be managed effectively with careful dietary choices and awareness. If you're unsure about a food item, it's best to avoid it, or consult with your healthcare provider for advice.

What Are Some Food Alternatives for Those with a Cherry Allergy?

For those dealing with a cherry allergy, finding suitable food alternatives can be a challenge. However, several delicious and nutritious options are available that won't trigger your allergy symptoms. Always remember to prioritize safety, ensuring your choices are free from cherry-related cross-contamination.

Fruits and Berries

Replace cherries with other fruits and berries that do not belong to the Rosaceae family. Opt for fruits like bananas, oranges, and grapes. Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are also safe alternatives.

Cherry Flavor Substitutes

When a recipe calls for cherry flavoring, consider using other flavors that you are not allergic to. Raspberry, strawberry, or pomegranate can often serve as suitable substitutes.

Alternative Nuts

If you are allergic to almonds due to cross-reactivity with cherries, you can consider other nuts that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. These include pecans, which are a common allergen but less likely to cross-react with cherry allergies as per this source.

Remember, everyone's allergy is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Always consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to ensure your dietary choices are safe and suitable for your particular situation.

Can Cherries Cause Anaphylaxis?

Yes, cherries can potentially cause anaphylaxis, a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction. However, this is relatively rare. Most cherry allergies result in oral allergy syndrome, which involves mild symptoms, but severe reactions like anaphylaxis can occur in more sensitive individuals.

Understanding Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. It causes a variety of symptoms, including difficulty breathing, a sudden drop in blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting. For some people, eating cherries can trigger an anaphylactic reaction, especially if they have a severe allergy to this fruit.

Prevention and Treatment

The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid exposure to allergens that you know you're allergic to. If you have been diagnosed with a severe cherry allergy, you should avoid cherries and any food products that may contain them. If you experience an anaphylactic reaction, seek emergency medical help immediately. Epinephrine is typically used to treat anaphylaxis and can be administered using an auto-injector.

Risks and Considerations

While cherry-induced anaphylaxis is rare, it can be severe and potentially life-threatening. If you know you're allergic to cherries, it's essential to carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times, and inform others about your allergy so they can assist in an emergency. As always, consult with a medical professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common fruit allergy?

The most common fruit allergy is Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), where individuals react to proteins in certain fruits that are similar to those in pollen. Apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and kiwis are among the most often reported triggers for this type of fruit allergy.

What are the four types of allergic reactions?

The four types of allergic reactions are classified as Type I, II, III, and IV. Type I, immediate hypersensitivity, includes reactions like hives and anaphylaxis. Type II, cytotoxic, involves cell damage. Type III, immune complex mediated, impacts blood vessels. Type IV, delayed-type hypersensitivity, includes contact dermatitis.

Why do cherries make my lips swell?

Swelling of the lips after eating cherries may be due to an allergic reaction known as Oral Allergy Syndrome. This happens when your immune system confuses proteins in the cherry with those in a pollen you're allergic to, causing inflammation and swelling of the lips.

How do you test for a cherry allergy?

Testing for a cherry allergy typically involves two steps. First, a skin prick test is done where a tiny amount of cherry extract is introduced to the skin. If a reaction is observed, a blood test, known as ImmunoCAP Specific IgE blood test, is conducted to confirm the allergy.

What are the three stages of an allergic reaction?

The three stages of an allergic reaction are sensitization, re-exposure, and reaction. Sensitization involves the immune system identifying an allergen as harmful. Re-exposure occurs when the body encounters the allergen again. The reaction stage is when symptoms, either mild or severe, manifest.

What is the berry allergy medicine?

The "berry allergy medicine" likely refers to AllerEase, a natural herbal supplement containing a blend of berries including stinging nettle, eyebright, and elderberry. It's designed to reduce inflammation, support the immune system, and alleviate symptoms related to allergies. Always consult a healthcare provider before use.

Can cherries irritate your throat?

Yes, cherries can irritate your throat if you have Oral Allergy Syndrome, a form of food allergy related to certain pollens. Symptoms include an itchy, scratchy throat, swollen lips or tongue, and tingling in the mouth immediately after eating cherries.

What are the ingredients in cherry flavored Benadryl?

Cherry flavored Benadryl contains the active ingredient Diphenhydramine HCl, an antihistamine. Inactive ingredients include anhydrous citric acid, D&C red no. 33, FD&C red no. 40, flavors, sodium citrate, sorbitol solution, purified water, and sucralose, which contribute to its taste and consistency.

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