Also called pollen-food allergy syndrome, oral allergy syndrome is an allergic response to cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and certain vegetables and fruits in raw form, as well in some tree nuts.
In response to the pollen and similar proteins in food, your immune system directs an allergic reaction in your mouth and throat. Usually, those with oral allergy syndrome can eat the same foods in cooked form without an allergic response, as the proteins become altered in the cooking process.
Who Can Be Affected by Oral Allergy Syndrome?
It’s uncommon for oral allergy syndrome to occur in young children, but older children, teens, and young adults are more commonly affected by it. Many people with this condition have been eating the same foods for years without issue and often have an allergy to ragweed, grass pollen, or birch. Foods that may trigger similar reactions as these allergens include almonds, celery, kiwi, pears, melons, tomatoes, peaches, and bananas.
Symptoms and Management
Oral allergy syndrome is characterized by an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, and/or swollen lips, tongue, and throat. Less common symptoms include hives around the mouth area and itchy ears. Symptoms generally subside quickly, once the food is removed from the mouth or swallowed, and treatment is rarely necessary.
For foods that cause an allergic reaction when raw, but can’t be cooked, such as melons, you might consider eliminating them from your diet. Your allergist can prescribe an epinephrine injector, or ‘pen’, however, for symptoms from high-risk foods, such as tree nuts or peanuts.
Oral allergy syndrome is a condition causing undesirable symptoms that can make eating less enjoyable. On the bright side, you can still enjoy the flavor of many of these foods in cooked form – and, if you love melon and a little itchiness from eating it doesn’t bother you, it’s fine to eat that, too. For any questions or concerns about allergic oral reactions, please contact our office.