Oral Allergy Syndrome

 

If certain raw fruits and vegetables make your mouth, tongue, throat or inner ears itch, you may have Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).  

OAS is what happens when you've got seasonal allergies and your body accidentally confuses the proteins on raw fruit with the pollen proteins its supposed to be allergic to. Basically, its a seasonal allergy masquerading as a food allergy. 

 

OAS differs from classic food allergies because the majority of people don't react to the fruit when it's been cooked. In other words, raw apples may give your mouth grief, but applesauce often goes down without a hitch.  Same goes for raw stone fruits versus fruit pies, raw carrots versus cooked ones or raw pears versus poached ones. Some lucky folks can even get away with eating their trigger food raw so long as they peel it.

It's rare-- though certainly not impossible-- for OAS to cause anaphylaxis like a more typical food allergy does. Still, pay attention to your symptoms and take action if your reaction spreads beyond an unpleasant itchiness in the mouth or throat. If you can't tolerate even the cooked form of the fruit-- or if nuts trigger an oral reaction-- you should avoid the trigger food(s) and see an allergist for proper food allergy testing.

The food(s) you react to with OAS will depend on what seasonal allergen you're allergic to, and your food reactions will likely be more severe when you're in the midst of allergy season. Certain fruits, veggies and even nuts can "cross react" with pollens whose proteins resemble theirs.

If you're allergic to birch pollen (Spring), you may experience OAS with: apples, pears, stone fruits (peach, plum etc), kiwi, carrots, celery, peanuts, almonds and/or hazelnuts.

If you're allergic to ragweed (Late summer/Fall), you may experience OAS with: melons, cucumber and zucchini

If you're allergic to grasses (Summer), you may experience OAS with: peach, watermelon, orange, tomato, 

If you're allergic to mugwort (Fall), you may experience OAS with: raw veggies, like pepper, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, garlic, onion and parsley