Kiwi Allergy: Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment and Prevention

Wyndly Care Team
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Is it common to be allergic to kiwi?

Yes, it is somewhat common to be allergic to kiwi. Symptoms can range from mild, like oral allergy syndrome, to potentially severe, such as anaphylaxis. Studies suggest that about 1 in 100 children and 1.2% of adults are affected by a kiwi allergy.

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What Causes a Kiwi Allergy?

A kiwi allergy is triggered when the immune system mistakenly identifies certain proteins in kiwis as harmful. This causes the release of histamine and other chemicals, which lead to allergic reactions. The primary protein responsible for kiwi allergies is called actinidin.

Kiwi allergies can develop at any age, and like other food allergies, they can vary in severity from mild to severe. While some people may only experience mild oral allergy syndrome, others may have a more severe systemic reaction, including anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

Kiwi allergies are often associated with allergies to other foods and substances. For instance, kiwi allergy sufferers often have cross-reactivity with latex (known as latex-fruit syndrome), as well as other fruits like bananas, avocados, and chestnuts. Additionally, some people with kiwi allergies may also suffer from hay fever, as the allergens in pollen can resemble the proteins found in kiwis.

What Are the Symptoms of a Kiwi Allergy?

Kiwi allergy symptoms range from mild to severe, with some individuals experiencing only mild discomfort while others can have life-threatening reactions. The symptoms generally occur shortly after consumption of the fruit, often within minutes.

Mild Symptoms

Mild symptoms include oral allergy syndrome, characterized by itching, tingling, or swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat. This condition is often linked to hay fever due to cross-reactivity between allergens in pollen and those in kiwis.

Severe Symptoms

Severe symptoms of a kiwi allergy include difficulty breathing, wheezing, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, and in extreme cases, anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that can cause shock, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and difficulty in breathing. It requires immediate medical attention.

Other Symptoms

Other symptoms can include skin reactions such as hives, eczema, or a rash. Some people may also experience a runny or blocked nose, watery eyes, or sneezing, similar to the symptoms of pollen allergy.

What Are the Risk Factors for Developing a Kiwi Allergy?

Risk factors for developing a kiwi allergy can be divided into genetic and environmental factors. Both play a crucial role in determining the likelihood of an individual developing this allergy.

Genetic Factors

Family history of allergies is a significant risk factor. If one or both parents have any form of allergy, their children are more likely to develop allergies. This includes not only kiwi allergies but also other food allergies and conditions like hay fever.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can also contribute to the development of a kiwi allergy. Residing in certain regions can increase the likelihood due to the prevalence of kiwi cultivation or consumption. Additionally, exposure to certain allergens, such as pollen, can lead to cross-reactivity and the development of a kiwi allergy. For instance, people with pollen allergies might be more susceptible due to the proteins in kiwi and pollen being similar.

Other Risk Factors

Other risk factors include age, with young children being more susceptible, and having a pre-existing allergy. Research suggests that those with latex allergy or allergies to other fruits, such as bananas or avocados, may also have an increased risk of developing a kiwi allergy.

What Complications Can Arise from a Kiwi Allergy?

Kiwi allergy can lead to several complications, ranging from mild discomfort to severe, even life-threatening conditions. These complications often relate to the body's immune response and can vary in intensity based on the severity of the allergy.


The most severe complication is anaphylaxis, a potentially deadly allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, dizziness, and loss of consciousness. While anaphylaxis due to kiwi allergy is relatively rare, it's essential to be aware of the risk.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Kiwi allergy can also cause oral allergy syndrome (OAS), a condition characterized by itching or inflammation of the mouth, tongue, and throat after eating raw kiwi. OAS is caused by a cross-reaction between proteins in kiwi and those found in certain pollens, like birch and grasses.

Complications with Other Allergies

People with a kiwi allergy might also experience complications in managing other allergies. For example, those with hay fever might see a worsening of their symptoms due to cross-reactivity. Moreover, studies suggest that climate change is exacerbating the severity of seasonal allergies, potentially further complicating this cross-reactivity.

How Does a Kiwi Allergy Affect Children?

In children, a kiwi allergy can present unique challenges and risks. Because children are still developing their immune systems, they may react more strongly to allergens, making allergic reactions potentially more severe.

Behavioral and Physical Impact

Children with kiwi allergies may experience discomfort, distress, and fear due to the physical symptoms of the allergy. This can impact their behavior, mood, and overall wellbeing. They might also have to avoid certain social situations, like parties or school lunches, where kiwi and kiwi-containing foods might be present.

Learning and Development

A kiwi allergy might also affect a child's learning and development. Allergy symptoms can cause discomfort and distract children from their studies. Moreover, severe allergic reactions could lead to absences from school, impacting their academic progress. Therefore, it's crucial for parents, caregivers, and teachers to understand and accommodate the needs of children with kiwi allergies.

Risk of Anaphylaxis

The risk of anaphylaxis is another significant concern for children with kiwi allergies. While rare, anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It requires immediate medical attention. Parents and caregivers should be prepared to recognize and respond to anaphylactic symptoms promptly.

How to Avoid Kiwi Allergy Triggers?

Avoiding kiwi allergy triggers primarily involves steering clear of kiwi and kiwi-containing foods. However, it's not always straightforward, as kiwi can be present in unexpected places or in disguised forms.

Reading Food Labels

It's crucial to read food labels carefully. Kiwi may be used in fruit mixes, smoothies, desserts, and salads. Check for "contains kiwi" or "may contain kiwi" warnings on packaged food products.


Be aware of cross-reactivity. Kiwi allergies can be associated with allergies to other fruits such as bananas, avocados, and pineapples due to similar proteins. If you have a kiwi allergy, you might also react to these fruits.

Awareness in Social Situations

Staying kiwi-safe also means being vigilant in social situations. Inform hosts of your allergy when attending parties or dining out. At school, teachers and caregivers should be informed of a child's kiwi allergy to ensure safety.

Handling and Cooking

Avoid touching or cooking with kiwi if you have a severe kiwi allergy. Even the skin or juice can trigger an allergic reaction. Use separate utensils and kitchenware to prevent cross-contamination.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively avoid kiwi allergy triggers and manage your allergy symptoms. Just like with hay fever allergies, avoidance is the first line of defense.

What Foods Are Safe for Those with a Kiwi Allergy?

People with a kiwi allergy can safely consume a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and grains that don't contain kiwi. It's essential to remember that everyone's body reacts differently, so what is safe for one person may not be safe for another.

Safe Fruits and Vegetables

Most fruits and vegetables, aside from those that are known to cross-react with kiwi, are generally safe. These include apples, oranges, berries, peaches, pears, melons, lettuce, spinach, carrots, broccoli, and many more.

Proteins and Grains

Proteins such as chicken, beef, fish, eggs, and dairy products are typically safe for those with a kiwi allergy. Similarly, grains like rice, wheat, oats, and corn, are usually well-tolerated.

Processed Foods

Processed foods that don't list kiwi or kiwi-related ingredients on the label are generally safe. However, always read the label carefully as manufacturers sometimes change their recipes.

While it's essential to avoid kiwi, a balanced diet can still be achieved by including a variety of other nutritious foods. And like with managing hay fever symptoms, it's always advisable to consult with an allergist or dietitian for personalized advice.

What Are the Treatments for Kiwi Allergy?

The primary treatment for kiwi allergy is avoidance. However, in instances where accidental exposure occurs, over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines can provide temporary relief. For severe reactions, an emergency epinephrine injection may be necessary. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized treatment options.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) is a long-term solution that can potentially modify the immune system’s response to allergens. SLIT functions much like allergy shots, but instead of injections, the allergen is placed under the tongue in the form of a tablet or drop. This treatment method, recommended by experts, has been effective for pollen allergies, similar to hay fever, and shows promise for food allergies like kiwi.

Emergency Epinephrine and Antihistamines

In cases of severe kiwi allergy, possessing an emergency epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) is crucial. This device can counteract severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) until medical help arrives. OTC antihistamines can manage mild to moderate symptoms, but they only provide temporary relief.

Managing a kiwi allergy effectively requires a comprehensive approach, combining avoidance strategies, emergency treatment plans, and potentially, long-term options like SLIT. As always, consult with your healthcare provider or an allergist for personalized advice.

When Should I Seek Help for a Kiwi Allergy?

You should seek help for a kiwi allergy as soon as you suspect you might have one or experience adverse reactions after consuming kiwi. Identifying food allergies early can help prevent serious complications. Let's look at situations that require immediate attention.

Mild to Moderate Reactions

If you experience symptoms such as hives, itching, swelling, or stomach discomfort after eating kiwi, seek medical advice. These symptoms could indicate a mild to moderate allergic reaction. Your healthcare provider will guide you on the next steps, OTC antihistamine regimen.

Severe Reactions

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical intervention. Symptoms can include difficulty breathing, sudden drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse and loss of consciousness. If you or someone else exhibits these symptoms after eating kiwi, call emergency services right away.

Consultation for Long-term Management

If kiwi allergy is affecting your quality of life, you might want to consider long-term treatment options such as sublingual immunotherapy. Consult with an allergist to discuss if this could be a suitable treatment for you.

Remember, it's important to seek help at the first sign of an allergic reaction. Prompt medical attention can prevent a minor reaction from escalating into a more serious situation.

What Is the Outlook for People with a Kiwi Allergy?

The outlook for people with a kiwi allergy is generally positive. With proper management and avoidance strategies, individuals can live a healthy and symptom-free life. However, the quality of life and outlook can depend on a few factors.

Early Diagnosis and Management

Early diagnosis and proper management of a kiwi allergy can significantly improve an individual's outlook. Adhering to dietary restrictions, recognizing symptoms, and knowing how to respond to allergic reactions can help manage this condition effectively.

Severity of Allergy

The severity of the kiwi allergy can also influence the outlook. Those with mild allergies may experience occasional discomfort, while individuals with severe allergies must be vigilant to avoid potential anaphylaxis. In severe cases, carrying an emergency epinephrine auto-injector is recommended.

Long-term Treatment Options

Long-term treatment options, like allergen-specific immunotherapy, can offer a positive outlook for those with kiwi allergy. This treatment can reduce sensitivity to the allergen over time, providing long-term relief from symptoms.

In conclusion, with careful management and appropriate treatment, individuals with a kiwi allergy can lead a healthy, normal life. It's important to have regular check-ups with an allergy specialist to keep symptoms under control and update treatment plans as necessary.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the three stages of an allergic reaction?

The three stages of an allergic reaction are Sensitization, Activation, and Effector. In the Sensitization stage, exposure to allergen occurs. During Activation, immune cells release histamines. The Effector stage involves symptoms such as swelling, redness, itching, and difficulty breathing.

What are the four types of allergic reactions?

The four types of allergic reactions are Type I (immediate hypersensitivity reactions), Type II (cytotoxic reactions), Type III (immune complex reactions), and Type IV (delayed hypersensitivity reactions). Each type involves a different immune response and results in different symptoms and complications.

What overlaps with a kiwi allergy?

Kiwi allergy can overlap with allergies to other fruits and vegetables due to a phenomenon called cross-reactivity. This includes bananas, avocados, and chestnuts. Additionally, a condition known as latex-fruit syndrome exists where individuals allergic to latex may also react to kiwi.

What should you avoid if you're allergic to kiwi?

If you're allergic to kiwi, avoid consuming the fruit both raw and cooked. You should also avoid foods or products that contain kiwi as an ingredient. Be wary of certain fruit salads, smoothies, desserts, and skin care products as they may contain traces of kiwi.

Who should not eat kiwi fruit?

People who should avoid eating kiwi fruit are primarily those with a known allergy to kiwi. Symptoms of this can include itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. Additionally, those with specific food syndrome like Oral Allergy Syndrome may need to avoid kiwi.

How can you tell if you are allergic to kiwi?

If you're allergic to kiwi, you may experience symptoms such as itching or tingling in the mouth, hives, swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat, abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing. In severe cases, an allergic reaction to kiwi can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition.

What can I take for a kiwi allergy?

For a kiwi allergy, over-the-counter antihistamines can help relieve minor symptoms. However, for severe reactions, such as anaphylaxis, immediate medical attention is required. It's crucial to consult with an allergist for personalized treatment and possibly desensitization therapy to manage the allergy.

How long does a kiwi allergic reaction last?

A kiwi allergic reaction typically lasts for a few hours to a few days, depending on the severity of the reaction and individual immune response. However, severe reactions requiring medical intervention, such as anaphylaxis, may result in symptoms persisting for several days.

Is kiwi highly allergenic?

Yes, kiwi is considered a highly allergenic fruit. Symptoms can range from mild oral allergy syndrome (itching or tingling in the mouth and throat) to severe systemic reactions, including anaphylaxis. It's particularly common in people who are also allergic to latex.

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