Kiwi Allergy

The kiwifruit is a healthy and nutritious fruit to your diet unless you are not allergic to kiwi. This fruit is also referred to as Chinese gooseberry. Kiwi allergies usually have mild symptoms but can also lead to severe situations. Some allergic reactions to kiwi include itchiness, stomach pains, rashes, or difficulty breathing. So, paying attention to your reaction after eating a kiwi is essential.

This article examines the symptoms, causes, prevention, treatments, and everything you need to know about kiwi allergy in adults and children. 

What Does a Kiwi Allergy Mean?

Kiwi allergy is a cause of oral allergy syndrome. It often occurs when your immune system takes the proteins of kiwi as harmful bacteria. Your immune system sends white blood cells and IgE antibodies to fight harmful viruses. Protein that leads to kiwi allergy symptoms includes actinidin, thaumatin-like protein, and kiwellin. People with kiwi allergy also tend to be allergic to other foods, called cross-sensitivity.

However kiwi allergy has mild symptoms, but it sometimes causes extreme cases which cannot be ignored. So, to avoid this allergy, people should be aware of hidden sources of kiwi. 

How Kiwi Allergies Work?

Kiwis can be problematic for individuals with allergies. Common reactions include itching and inflammation in the mouth and throat. Some experience severe symptoms like pain, vomiting, breathing issues, anaphylaxis, and death.

Kiwi is a common allergen due to its cross-reactivity with other foods and substances like banana, birch pollen, avocado, rye grain, and hazelnuts. These allergens contain similar proteins, which cause the immune system to react to kiwi similarly.

Latex-sensitive people may react to other substances due to shared epitopes.

Is Kiwi Allergy Common?

No kiwi allergy was not common. In 1962, it first arose in North America and was reported in 1981. Since then, allergies to kiwi have been increasingly reported, from mild to severe symptoms. Some researchers found that people living in geographical areas are more allergic to kiwi as there is more birch pollen. Kiwi allergy risk is higher for those with latex or birch pollen allergies. You don't need to cut kiwi from your diet unless you've had a bad reaction. If you do experience any symptoms, talk to your allergist.

Symptoms of Kiwi Allergy 

Kiwi allergies can be mild or severe. If you are allergic to kiwi, you can be allergic to other foods, fruits, and pollen. The symptoms of allergy depend on your body's reaction after consuming kiwi. 

1. Oral Allergy Syndrome

If kiwi allergy is caused by oral allergy syndrome (OAS), mild symptoms will affect your mouth and throat. It occurs due to food pollen, and when the pollen rises high, the symptoms become severe. These symptoms include:   

  • Itching in mouth, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Swelling in the mouth and throat.
  • Small duration symptoms. 

2. True Kiwi Food Allergy

True kiwi allergy tends to have more severe symptoms than OAS. It tends to appear immediately after food, within some minutes, or it may take up to 2 hours. True kiwi symptoms include:

  • Trouble breathing/anaphylaxis (more common than in OAS).
  • Eczema (a skin condition that causes raised, itchy patches).
  • Abdominal pains.
  • Rashes.
  • Hives.
  • Vomiting.

If you experience these symptoms after eating kiwi, stop eating this fruit. These symptoms arise just after 20-30 minutes after consuming kiwi. If you continue to eat this fruit, you may experience more severe symptoms. 

Kiwi Allergy Triggers and Cross-Reactions

Many researchers found that kiwi has 12 different allergens. However, they are not harmful, but your body can consume them as a dangerous substance, resulting in allergies. It can also make you allergic to other substances called cross-reactivity. Some foods and plant parts may trigger allergic reactions similar to those caused by kiwi allergens.

  • Apple
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Birch pollen
  • Grass pollen
  • Hazelnuts and other tree nuts
  • Latex
  • Melon
  • Peanuts
  • Potatoes
  • Ragweed
  • Sesame seeds
  • Wheat

People living in geographic areas are more prone to kiwi allergy because of much birch pollen. Latex is a natural substance found in rubber trees and similar plants. It's used to make items like surgical gloves and condoms. People allergic to latex may also experience symptoms when exposed to kiwi, as the two share at least two allergens.

Causes and Risk Factors

A kiwi allergy arises when your immune system takes some proteins of kiwi as a harmful substance, virus, or bacteria. When this happens, the immune system sends white blood cells and other substances like IgE antibodies to attack these substances, resulting in kiwi allergy.  

According to research, many proteins are linked to allergy reactions, like actinidin, thaumatin-like protein, and kiwellin. Evidence also suggests that kiwi fruit may cause allergic reactions in some people due to a compound called 30 kDa thiol-protease actinidin. This compound is believed to be a major allergen associated with kiwi fruit. Here, we will discuss some major causes and risks of kiwi allergy:

1. Genetic predisposition

Some studies have shown that allergy risks increase through hereditary or genes passed from parents to their children, including kiwi allergy. There is a 50% chance that children are more likely to have an allergy if any of their parents have one. 

2. Environmental elements

Exposure to environmental factors like pollen, dust, and shed skin cells of animals can also increase the risk of developing food allergies, including kiwi allergy. 

3. Previous sensitization

Previous sensitization can also increase the risk of cross-reactivity as people have allergies due to other food pollens like bananas or avocados. The risk of kiwi allergy increases along with other new food allergies. 

4. Other related allergies

Due to cross-reactivity, people with a latex or birch pollen allergy are more allergic to a kiwi allergy.

Treatments for Kiwi Allergy

The best way to control kiwi allergy, whether OAS or true kiwi allergy, is to avoid kiwi fruits and their other forms of kiwi to avoid cross-reaction. Below are some treatments if you experience kiwi allergy: 

1. Emergency Treatment

If you experience OAS symptoms, it may reduce by itself and do not require any treatment as it goes by itself. But if you experience true kiwi symptoms, it can worsen with time, so you can consider an auto-injector (like an EpiPen) a medical emergency to ensure you're prepared if you develop anaphylaxis. You can take this injector if you experience the following symptoms: 

  • Hives or itching.
  • Drop in blood pressure.
  • Tongue, mouth, or throat swelling.
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
  • Feeling dizzy or fainting.

2. Thermal processing and chemical treatments

Currently, there are no proper treatment options to cure food allergies. Some processes can help to reduce allergies. These methods include heating the food through boiling, sterilization, steam cooking, or high-intensity ultrasound treatments. Chemical processing, like enzymes or ethylene, can also be effective.

It's challenging to balance reducing food allergens with maintaining or improving food quality through processing techniques. We must find a way to make food safer for people with allergies while ensuring it tastes good.

3. Treating Mild Reactions

For mild symptoms antihistamines like Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may help. However, the providers do not recommend it, but you can take it once a day to lower the symptoms of food allergies, including kiwi allergy. It also helps to control seasonal or environmental allergies. 

4. Reading food labels

If you are prone to kiwi allergy, carefully read the food labels to check the ingredients of kiwi and its other forms. Choose the one with the absence of kiwi and its derivatives. 

5. Identifying hidden sources of kiwi

Kiwi fruit is used in fruit salads, smoothies, and baked goods. So, be alert of other possible sources of kiwi while eating something. 

6. Lifestyle modifications

Modifying some lifestyle standards may help people with kiwi allergy to control and minimize the risk of accidental exposure.

7. Communicating allergies to food providers

If you have some food allergy, it is best to communicate it to restaurant staff about your allergies and request them to prepare your food without those specific ingredients. Doing so will help you avoid accidental allergic reactions.

What is Kiwi Intolerance?

Kiwi intolerance and kiwi allergy are different terms with different meanings and cause different reactions in the body. However, kiwi intolerance is not as severe as kiwi allergy but can be uncomfortable. In kiwi intolerance, your body produces IgG antibodies, and it includes symptoms like:

  • IBS.
  • Bloating.
  • Gas/stomach pain.
  • Skin issues/itching.

Kiwi Allergy In Children

Although kiwi is packed with vitamins and nutrients, it also includes allergens. So, if you have any history of allergies, you should avoid giving kiwi to your children. Children have weaker immunity, and they can show reactions if they have genetic health allergy conditions. 

If this is the case, always consult the doctor before giving your child kiwi. If your child suffers from kiwi reactions, you can identify it by symptoms like upset stomach, bloating, or even diarrhea. Some other symptoms include:

  • Redness or swelling in mouth, throat, or lips.
  • Excessive crying.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Red patches on the skin.
  • Irritability.
  • Hives.

If you find any of these symptoms in your child, immediately take them to the doctor and ask them to resolve it quickly. 

How to Prevent Kiwi Allergy?

There are several things you can do to prevent kiwi allergy. 

1. Introduction of allergenic foods during infancy.

The early introduction of food that contains allergens like kiwi during infancy may lower the risk of food allergies. More research is needed to establish clear guidelines on when and how to introduce these foods.

 2. Allergen immunotherapy

Exposing the allergens helps the immune system build tolerance, which helps treat food allergies, known as allergen immunotherapy. More research needs to be done to determine how safe and effective immunotherapy for kiwi allergy is.

3. Ongoing research and future developments

Research is being conducted to understand more about food allergies, including those caused by kiwi. The goal is to discover what causes these allergies and develop new ways to prevent and treat them. Advances in allergy research could lead to better and more personalized treatment options for people with kiwi allergies.

When To See A Doctor?

Anyone who experiences any sign of allergy like swelling in mouth or throat after eating kiwi is advised to visit a doctor or allergy specialist. If a person seems to have difficulty breathing, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention.

Your healthcare professional can perform some tests like skin prick tests or blood tests to find how severe it is and whether the person also has other related allergies. If the doctor determines it as a severe allergy, they suggest you carry antihistamine medication or an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen). 

How Long Does a Kiwi Allergy Last?

Usually, after eating kiwi, if your body mistakes some of its substances for a virus, it may show its symptoms in just a few minutes. But if the symptoms are mild, they will disappear by themselves. But if the symptoms are severe and visible on the skin, it may take some days of around two to four weeks to disappear completely. 


Kiwi fruit is packed with nutrition unless it causes some allergies. Kiwi allergy can be caused by OAS, which includes symptoms like itching, tingling, or swelling of the mouth and throat. A true severe allergy can cause symptoms like difficulty breathing, which requires the immediate seek of a healthcare provider. 

People allergic to kiwi can also have other food allergies. So, avoid kiwis and kiwi-related ingredients to prevent cross-reaction. If you have an allergic reaction, seeing a specialist is essential as soon as possible. They can identify what's causing your symptoms and advise you on how to avoid them. They can also prescribe the proper treatment to help you feel better. 


1. What to avoid if you're allergic to kiwi?

You should avoid cross-reactive latex and plant foods like apples, hazelnuts, cherries, peaches, carrots, and peanuts. 

2. What causes an allergic reaction to kiwi?

If you're allergic to pollen or latex, you may also be allergic to kiwi fruit. Some people can have an allergy to kiwi fruit by itself, ranging from mild to severe.

3. Is kiwi allergy dangerous?

Kiwi allergy is usually not dangerous and causes mild local reactions, but they can lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis in severe cases.

4. What is a kiwi allergy called?

If you experience itchy mouth or throat after eating kiwis, you may suffer from kiwi oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also called Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS).

5. Why does kiwi burn my tongue?

Proteins in kiwi are similar in structure to those found in pollen, which can cause swelling, tingling, or itching in the lips, mouth, or throat when eating raw kiwifruit.

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Oliver Nelson

Oliver Nelson is a New York based Health Specialist Writer who completed his graduation from Syracuse University back in 2015. His writings were published in the top Healthcare brands in the United States.

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