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Oral Allergy Syndrome

With various types of plants coming into bloom this time of year, many of us are consumed by allergies. But what most people are unaware of is that foods and pollen allergies can actually affect one another. Certain foods, like the ones listed below, can react similar to pollen to the body’s immune system and provoke an allergic response.

For example in the springtime, with the substantial amount of tree pollen, it is common for me to see patients who complain of an itchy mouth when eating certain foods. For instance, apples can sometimes cause these symptoms during tree pollen season.

Oral allergy syndrome, an allergic reaction in the mouth, is another common form of IgE-mediated food allergy, which is an immediate hypersensitivity reaction. If you experience an oral allergy syndrome, you will immediately notice when you have a bodily reaction and connect the incident to a certain food you have just eaten, which means you may rarely seek medical attention. These local IgE-mediated reactions result in an immediate swelling of the lips, tingling of the tongue and throat, and blistering of the oral mucosa. Symptoms usually are short-lived and most commonly associated with eating various fresh fruits and vegetables that cross-react with their specific allergic pollen, causing post-nasal drip and congestion.

Cross-reactivity between inhalant allergens and foods is common; oral allergy syndromes are estimated to affect up to 40 percent of patients with pollen allergies, especially to birch, ragweed and mugwort pollens. Major cross-reactive relationships between inhalant pollens and food includes:

Birch: apple, apricot, carrot, celery, hazelnut, kiwi, parsley, peach, peanut, pear and potatoes
(Avoid these foods from January through May)


Dust Mites:
shrimp and snail
(Avoid these foods year round)

Grass: kiwi, melon, tomato, watermelon, wheat and other grains
Johnson grass:
corn, millet, sugarcane and sorghum
Timothy grass:
kiwi, latex
(Avoid these foods from May through October)

Latex: avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, and rose family fruits including cherry, peach, apple, pear, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, plum, apricot and almond
(Avoid these foods year round)

Mugwort: carrot, celery and coriander
(Avoid these foods from July through November)

Ragweed: banana, cucumber, lettuce, melons, watermelon and milk
(Avoid these foods from July through November)

If you think that the oral allergy symptoms you are suffering from could be from an inhalant or food allergy, you should discuss this with your physician for an allergy testing or recommendations on medications to control these underlying allergies. I also would suggest calling Affinity NurseDirect at 1 (800) 362-9900 to talk to registered nurses who are available 24-7 to answer questions and give advice.

Dr. Todd Meyer provides comprehensive care for the full spectrum of ear, nose, throat and related conditions. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and is board-certified in otolaryngology. In his free time, Dr. Meyer enjoys mountain bike riding and long walks with his four dogs exploring the wilderness.

Dr. Todd Meyer, Affinity Health System,

About Dr. Todd Meyer

Dr. Todd Meyer provides comprehensive care for the full spectrum of ear, nose, throat and related conditions. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and is board-certified in otolaryngology. In his free time, Dr. Meyer enjoys mountain bike riding and long walks with his four dogs exploring the wilderness.

3 Responses to Oral Allergy Syndrome

  • Tracey Childers says:

    Great blog Dr. Meyer. I appreciate the informative, yet concise presentation – great for patients to quickly grasp and share. Thank you!

  • Marchije says:

    Hi there.

    I noted that the picture you have under “ragweed” is in actuality goldenrod. It is not uncommon for people to mistake the two plants (even though in actuality they look nothing alike) because goldenrod happens to thrive in many of the same areas as ragweed and both plants happen to flower at around the same time. Given those who react to ragweed will more often notice goldenrod’s bright yellow flowers in areas where they are the most prone to their allergy symptoms, they will sometimes conclude that it is goldenrod who is the culprit.

    Some helpful links on this subject with images of both plants:

    http://ontariowildflowers.com/mondaygarden/article.php?id=129

    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/bot00/bot00072.htm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cg4eeQHqt7I

    Cheers!

  • Dana says:

    Wow! I never suspected that the apples were doing it! I thought I was using “old” cinnamon spice sprinkled on top, and I bought a new container which didn’t help much! Now I know..thank you, Dr Meyer!

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