Signs You Have a Pear Allergy

Pear allergies are most common in people who have pollen allergies

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If you experience an itchy or swollen mouth or face after eating a pear, you might be experiencing allergy symptoms. Pear allergies are rare, but they do occur.

Usually, they occur because the proteins in fruits like pears are very similar to the proteins in pollen, particularly birch pollen. If you have hay fever and are allergic to birch pollen, you also may experience pear allergy symptoms. 

This article discusses pear allergies, including symptoms, and treatments.

Pear slices in the shape of a flower

Francesco Carta fotografo/Getty Images

What Happens Inside Your Body 

No one knows exactly how many people suffer from pear allergies. That’s because a true pear allergy is incredibly rare. Instead, most people who experience pear allergy symptoms are reacting to proteins in the pear that are similar to proteins found in birch pollen or in peaches.

Most pear allergies cause oral allergy syndrome, or OAS, which is characterized by itching or minor swelling in the mouth and throat.

Immune System Reaction to Pear Protein

The most common cause of pear allergy in North America is an allergen found in both pears and birch pollen. The protein in the skins of pears is similar to the protein that causes allergies to birch tree pollen. So, people who are allergic to birch pollen are typically also allergic to pears. 

Because the allergen is found mostly in the skin of pears, symptoms are worse when someone consumes the skin. The protein breaks down with heat, so people with a pear allergy caused by birch pollen can usually eat cooked and canned pears without experiencing a reaction. 

Peach Allergy

Some people experience an allergic reaction to pears because they are allergic to peaches. A protein in pears mimics the peach protein that triggers the allergy. Although this can happen anywhere, it’s most common in people living in the Mediterranean.

In addition to OAS symptoms of the mouth and throat, people with a peach allergy also are prone to gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea and vomiting.  People with this type of allergy cannot eat a cooked pear and are likely to also be allergic to apples, peaches, plums, cherries, apricots, hazelnuts, or walnuts.

Symptoms 

The most common pear allergy symptoms are itching and minor swelling in and around the mouth. If you experience OAS, you’ll notice swelling or itching in the:

  • Mouth
  • Lips
  • Tongue
  • Throat

These symptoms usually occur immediately after eating a pear but may occur up to an hour later. In rare cases, people with pear allergies may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Treatment Options 

In most cases, an OAS reaction caused by a pear allergy doesn’t need treatment. The symptoms will resolve on their own. However, you can take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine, like Benadryl, to control the symptoms and improve your comfort.

Prevention

The best way to control pear allergy symptoms is by avoiding pears. If you have a birch pollen allergy, it’s especially important to avoid pears in the spring, when allergen levels are highest. Keep in mind, however, that a reaction can occur at any time of the year.


Cooked, canned, and baked forms of raw fruit are generally well tolerated. Sometimes even skinned pear can cause OAS symptoms. Every patient's tolerance is different. Unfortunately, if you are allergic to peaches you will likely need to avoid pears altogether.

Summary

Few people are truly allergic to pears. However, proteins found in pears are similar to those found in birch pollen and in peaches. People who are allergic to those substances may react to pears. Pear allergy symptoms are generally mild and will resolve on their own, but more dangerous reactions are possible, so reach out to your healthcare provider or call 911 if you are concerned. 

A Word From Verywell

Pears are a delicious snack and great first food for babies. A pear allergy in a baby or adult is relatively rare, making them a safe food to try. However, if you notice itchiness or swelling after eating a pear, you may have OAS. If you’re determined to keep pears in your diet, talk with your healthcare provider about incorporating peeled or cooked pears, which have an even lower allergy risk. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should you take a test for a pear allergy?

    Pear allergies are very rare, so most people don’t need a test. If you experience a pear allergy you can simply avoid the fruit, but if you want a more thorough diagnosis talk to your healthcare provider about a skin prick test or food challenge.

  • What is oral allergy syndrome?

    Oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen food allergy syndrome, is a localized allergic reaction in the mouth and throat. It happens when proteins in some fruits, including pears, mimic proteins in pollen that cause allergic reactions. 

  • How do you know if your child has a pear allergy?

    The most common sign of pear allergies is swelling or itching in the face or throat. Some people experience gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea.  

  • Does buying organic fruit help prevent allergies?

    No, buying organic fruit doesn’t make a difference in pear allergy reactions because symptoms are caused by a protein in the pear and not a preservative or other chemical. Peeling and cooking pears can help reduce reactions. 

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Manchester. Allergy information for pear.

  2. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Oral allergy syndrome.

  3. Barni S, Caimmi D, Chiera F, et al. Phenotypes and endotypes of peach allergy: what is newNutrients. 2022;14(5):998.

  4. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Oral Allergy Syndrome.