Oral Allergy Syndrome Made Worse By Ragweed, Fruits And Vegetables

Does your mouth or throat become itchy after eating fresh fruits or vegetables during the fall season? For some people, seasonal allergy symptoms may be made worse by consuming fresh fruits or vegetables due to “oral allergy syndrome” (OAS), according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Oral allergy syndrome is an allergy which is caused due to certain raw vegetables, fruits, spices, seeds and nuts. Allergic reactions are caused in the mouth and throat. Allergic reactions occur in people with hay fever, especially spring hay fever due to birch pollen and late summer hay fever due to ragweed pollen.

OAS is caused by allergens in the air such as ragweed, which begins to bloom around August 15. “The pollen released from ragweed is the airborne allergen primarily responsible for the onslaught of allergy symptoms in the fall,” said Clifford W. Bassett, MD, FAAAAI. “For the 36 million people suffering from ragweed allergies, it is important to know about pollen-food syndrome, also known as oral allergy syndrome.

The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness, swelling and hives affecting the mouth, face/lip and throat area.

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The allergic reaction can be noticed while eating raw food and causes tingly, itchy lips, mouth, palate and throat. The lips, tongue, and throat can be swelled and sneezing, watery eyes and runny nose can result.

When raw fruits or vegetables are handled like peeling them or touching the juice to the lips, it causes rash, swelling and itching where the juice touches skin. Severe symptoms can also occur sometimes such as cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. On rare occasions, life threatening reactions like wheezing, anaphylaxis and breathing trouble occurs.

Oral allergy syndrome causes a reaction when fresh vegetables, fruits or nuts are consumed. Because the proteins in these foods are temperature sensitive, heating or freezing these foods make them far less allergenic.

Ragweed allergy is associated with allergies to raw bananas and members of gourd family such as cucumber, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and zucchini. The allergic reaction mainly occurs when the food is raw. People with raw food allergies should eat the food cooked, micro waved, processed and baked.

When allergy test is conducted, the tests can be negative unless a fresh fruit is used for the test. Allergic reactions to these foods can occur at any time but they become worse at the time of pollen season.

For mild oral allergy syndrome, peel the fruit and eat, or eat the unripe or partially ripe fruit. Nuts should be totally avoided whether fresh or cooked because of high allergic reactions.