Q. I have fig trees in my back yard and they were especially fruitful this year. I love fresh figs, but lately I have been experiencing a scary reaction. My lips tingle and my tongue swells up. Could this be a fig allergy?
A. Food allergies can be serious. Those who are sensitive to nuts or shellfish may suffer life-threatening reactions to even the smallest exposure.
Fruit allergy is usually less serious, but if your tongue swells it could interfere with breathing. Some people, especially those who are allergic to latex or tree and grass pollens may also react to kiwi fruit, figs, papaya, passion fruit, bananas, peaches and nectarines, to name just a few.
Numbness and tingling in the mouth or lips, itching and swelling are all red flags that shouldn’t be ignored. But you may not have to give up figs altogether. Peeling the fruit sometimes solves the problem and cooking may destroy the protein responsible for the allergy.
Check with your doctor before experimenting, however, as he may want you to do this in his office or have an adrenaline injection on hand just in case things get out of hand.