Oral Allergy Syndrome: When Seasonal Allergies Cause Food Allergies
If you have seasonal allergies and experience an itchy throat or mouth after eating certain raw fruit, vegetables, or tree nuts, you might be suffering from Oral Allergy Syndrome. Although Oral Allergy Syndrome can affect young children, it primarily affects older children, teenagers, and adults. Foods that you could tolerate in the past now elicit allergic reactions as your immune system confuses pollen allergens with the protein in certain raw foods.
Oral Allergy Syndrome: What are the symptoms?
Like its name, Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) causes an allergic reaction only in the mouth, lips, and throat of sensitized individuals after eating fresh or raw fruits and vegetables. The lips, mouth, or throat may quickly become itchy or swollen after eating certain types of trigger foods, such as fresh fruit or vegetables. Some people may also experience itching or irritation in their eyes, gums, and nose. In rare cases, a highly allergic person may experience anaphylaxis - difficulty breathing or swallowing - that requires immediate medical attention.
Seasonal Allergy Set Up: Who's at risk?
If you suffer from asthma or hay fever, you may be at risk for Oral Allergy Syndrome. Individuals who suffer from allergies to pollen may also be at risk for OAS. Several seasonal allergens are responsible for Oral Allergy Syndrome, including:
Birch Tree Pollen
More than half of individuals with allergic reactions to Birch tree pollen experience OAS or develop symptoms. If you are allergic to Birch tree pollen, you may react not only to fresh fruits and vegetables but also to certain nuts. While there is no specific test for Oral Allergy Syndrome, your healthcare practitioner may recommend a blood test or an allergy skin test to determine if you're allergic to pollen.
Ways to Manage Oral Allergy Syndrome
If you suffer from allergies during pollen season and have experienced symptoms after eating fresh produce, you should see your healthcare practitioner to determine if you have Oral Allergy Syndrome. The type of pollen allergy you experience may make you sensitive to specific categories of fruit, vegetables, or nuts. Here are two of the pollen allergies and the trigger foods that elicit OAS:
Birch Pollen Allergy (Spring): Apples, apricots, cherries, peach, pear, plum, kiwi, carrots, celery, parsley, soybeans, peanut, hazelnut, almonds.
Mugwort (Fall): Bell pepper, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss Chard, garlic, onion, parsley, anise, coriander, caraway, fennel, black pepper.
The good news is that with proper professional guidance, you can manage Oral Allergy Syndrome. In fact, some individuals with OAS can eat the same trigger foods if they are cooked. Since not everyone with Oral Allergy Syndrome reacts to the same foods, proper allergy testing is important in identifying those individuals who react to raw versus cooked produce.
If you think you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome and have questions about your next steps or are interested in learning more about this condition, please contact us.
Cudowska, B. Pollen-related food allergy in children with seasonal allergic rhinitis. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2021 Feb;38(2):96-101.
The contents of this blog are intended for educational purposes only. The information presented here is not a substitute for proper medical attention, diagnosis, or treatment by a qualified healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider before starting or making any changes to an existing treatment plan, exercise program or dietary regimen, and before using nutritional supplements.
~ Dr. Sarah Williams ~ Concord, Massachusetts ~