Oral Allergy Syndrome – When Hayfever starts dictating your menu

During spring and summer, some of the fruits and vegetables you missed all winter appear in mountains carefully stacked at the local grocery store. Did you know that the sweet and soft peaches you smothered in vanilla ice cream might surprise you with the effects they have on hay fever? After eating fruit, vegetables, nuts or spices, you may have noticed:

  • A tingling sensation in the lips or tongue
  • Itching in the tongue, mouth and throat
  • Burning sensation in lips, tongue, mouth and throat
  • Itchy, itchy eyes
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Swelling or rash on the lips, tongue and mouth

Oral allergy syndrome is not the same as a real food allergy: it is your existing pollen allergies that react to proteins in particular fresh foods.

If you know you have hay fever and have definitively answered “yes” to any of the above symptoms, you may have oral allergic syndrome. Your body is not actually allergic to food, but is reacting due to preexisting sensitivity to pollen. If your diet-related symptoms are at their worst in early spring and late summer, then you like having oral allergy syndrome more.

Who is interested?

Individuals who suffer from allergies to certain plants and trees, including: alders, birches, grass, mugwort and ragweed shrubs.

Foods that commonly cause cross allergic reactions:

  • If you are sensitive to alder pollen: almonds apples celery cherries hazelnuts peaches pears parsley
  • If you have a sensitivity to birch pollen: almonds apples apricots carrots celery cherries coriander fennel kiwi nectarines parsley parsnips peaches pears peppers plums potatoes plums plums potential: hazelnuts and walnuts
  • If you have a sensitivity to mugwort pollen:
  • carrots celery coriander fennel parsley peppers sunflower

  • If you have a sensitivity to ragweed pollen: banana melon cucumber honey dew watermelon zucchini Potential: dandelions or chamomile

The same intolerance your body has to inhalation pollen can also be applied to these food lists.

Is there a way to cure oral allergic syndrome?

  1. Fruit and vegetable peels often eliminate the allergic reaction
  2. Canned, cooked or processed foods usually do not cause allergies only to reactions
  3. Freshly picked or still partially unripe fruits are less likely to cause reactions
  4. Stop eating food if you notice a tingling sensation around or in the mouth
  5. Keep in mind that you may develop allergic tendencies towards other items on the lists over time; always be careful when eating foods in these lists
  6. Microwave cooking of food briefly at a temperature of 176-194 degrees F can allow you to eat it: the heat basically deactivates the proteins that mimic allergens
  7. The nuts on the lists should be completely avoided, regardless of whether they are cooked or not
  8. Immunotherapy (i.e. allergy shots) usually significantly improves or even eliminates oral allergic syndrome

For a list of fruits and vegetables that won’t trigger your oral allergy syndrome, check out the Wikipedia entry for this topic.

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