What Is A Honey Allergy?
A honey allergy is an adverse reaction to honey. The main allergens in the honey that trigger an allergic reaction are pollen and glandular proteins that bees produce. Specifically, pollen from the plant family Compositae, which includes sunflower, ragweed, and sagebrush, causes honey allergy. Some individuals with pollen allergies may experience cross-reactivity between certain pollen and honey. So, if you’re allergic to pollen, we recommend getting allergy testing done for honey.
Honey Allergy Symptoms
- Watery eyes
- Itchy throat
- Runny nose
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal pain
The main symptom of honey allergy is hay fever. While rare, anaphylaxis to honey is possible. That’s why a quick diagnosis is important to learn how to manage honey allergy.
Honey Allergy Diagnosis
An allergist can diagnose honey allergy. They will ask for a detailed history of the person’s symptoms, including the foods they had eaten shortly before the symptoms began. They will also ask about the person’s family history and perform a physical examination to rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. Oftentimes, a diagnosis comes with allergy testing.
Skin prick testing can identify a pollen allergy that may be the cause of your honey allergy. Skin prick testing is the most common method of allergy testing. During this test, the skin is slightly pricked while a small drop of allergen is exposed to the skin for about 15-20 minutes. Your NYC allergist will then monitor the skin for signs of an allergic reaction, including redness and swelling.
An elimination diet may also help diagnose your allergy. Elimination testing is when an allergist asks you to avoid honey to see if your symptoms improve. During this test, you may be asked to keep a journal to document any changes.
Honey Allergy Treatment
The best treatment for honey allergy is avoidance. You should avoid honey and honey-containing products. However, there are some ways to help treat honey allergy symptoms. If your honey allergy is triggered by pollen, allergy immunology will help treat your allergy. Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a treatment in which a patient is injected with small amounts of an allergen on a regular basis. The doses are slowly increased over time, causing the patient’s immune system to become less and less sensitive to the allergen.
You may also need antihistamines to soothe some of your hay fever symptoms. We recommend booking an appointment with one of our allergy specialists to get a personalized treatment plan for honey allergy. We offer multiple locations throughout New York City and extended hours at certain offices.
Honey Allergy Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Be Allergic to Honey?
If you experience allergy symptoms after consuming honey, you could be allergic to honey. Some individuals may also develop a sensitivity to honey.
Why Are People Allergic to Honey?
The main allergens in the honey that trigger an allergic reaction are pollen and glandular proteins that bees produce.
How Is Honey Allergy Diagnosed?
An allergist can diagnose honey allergy through allergy testing. Skin prick testing is the most common method of diagnosis. An elimination diet or food challenge may also be helpful.
Is Honey Allergy Curable?
Honey allergy is not curable. However, allergy shots may help treat this allergy. Ask your allergist if you’re a candidate for allergy immunology.
Can I Be Allergic to Raw Honey But Not Processed Honey?
Some individuals may have an allergic reaction specifically to raw honey due to the presence of pollen or propolis. Processed honey, which undergoes filtration and heat treatment, may have fewer allergenic substances. However, individual allergies can vary.
Can Honey Allergies Develop Later In Life?
Yes, honey allergies can develop at any age, including later in life. It is possible for someone to develop an allergy to honey even if they previously had no issues with consuming it.