Are you one of the countless people suffering from seasonal allergies this time of year? Specifically pollen? Have you experienced itchiness, soreness or hives in your mouth as well? Then you may be surprised to discover that you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome.
For many people with pollen allergies, eating certain fruits and veggies may cause your mouth to show some of the symptoms mentioned above. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, up to one-third of people with pollen allergies may also have Oral Allergy Syndrome.
Don’t worry, though! Most cases are mild. However, on rare occasions, there are serious cases of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction), so be conscientious of early warning signs if they appear.
It works like this. In hay fever, the immune system treats pollen like a foreign invader. The unpleasant allergy symptoms – itchy eyes, sore and scratchy throat, sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose etc. – are the bodies reaction to rid the system of the intruder. Now, many fruits and veggies have proteins in them that are very similar to those found in pollen. In fact, they are so similar in some cases, that the body can mistake the proteins in your fruits and veggies, for that found in pollen! This is Oral Allergy Syndrome.
Here are some foods to watch out for if you are allergic to any of the following types of pollen:
- Ragweed Allergy: “Ragweed, in theory, cross-reacts with bananas and melons, so people with ragweed allergies may react to honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelons, or tomatoes,” says Warren V. Filley, MD, from the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic in Oklahoma City. Zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile tea, and echinacea also go on that list.
- Birch Pollen Allergy: People with birch pollen allergies may react to kiwi, apples, pears, peaches, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, and almonds.
- Grass Allergy: People with grass allergy may react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, and oranges, according to the AAAAI.
- Latex Rubber Allergy: Like pollen allergies, people allergic to latex rubber may react to bananas, avocados, kiwi, chestnut, and papaya.
Most people reported to have Oral Allergy Syndrome are in their 20’s and 30’s. If you think you could be one of those people who has Oral Allergy Syndrome, then see a board-certified allergist. Most cases are mild, but some are serious, so get checked out! Also, if you know you are allergic to pollen, be proactive and avoid trigger foods. If the foods are a favorite of yours, here are some other tips.
- Cook it. Cooking often breaks down or alters the trigger proteins so that the immune system doesn’t target them.
- Peel it. Peeling fruits such as apples may help, because most trigger proteins are in the peel.
- Can it. Canning also breaks down those proteins.