According to a 2015 study published in the International Dental Journal, “Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is an allergic reaction that occurs after consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in patients with allergy to pollen… Symptoms arise as a result of cross-reactivity between pollen and plant-derived food.” Below we review everything you need to know about oral allergy syndrome.
Who Experiences Oral Allergy Syndrome?
Oral allergy syndrome most commonly affects people with hay fever or asthma who are reactive to tree or other types of pollen. This syndrome is rare in children, and its prevalence increases with age.
What Causes Oral Allergy Syndrome?
Your immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for people with allergies, the immune system mistakes harmless substances as dangerous intruders. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and your immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, your immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which causes your cells to release histamine. Histamine increases your mucus production and causes inflammation; this is what produces your allergy symptoms.
With oral allergy syndrome, the immune system sees the similarity between a certain type of pollen and the fruit or vegetable you’re eating and triggers a reaction.
What Foods Cause This Cross-Reactivity?
Below is a list of common types of pollen that cause allergic reactions and potential cross-reactive foods:
- Grass: peaches, celery, melons, tomatoes, oranges.
- Ragweed: bananas, melons, zucchini, cucumber, dandelions, chamomile tea.
- Birch: apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, nectarines, prunes, kiwi, carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnips, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts.
- Alder: celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley.
- Latex: bananas, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, papaya.
What Are the Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome?
If you have oral allergy syndrome and you eat a cross-reactive food, you will experience allergy symptoms such as rapid-onset itching and swelling of the lips, mouth and throat. Your gums, eyes and nose may also be irritated.
How Is Oral Allergy Syndrome Treated?
It is best to avoid foods that trigger your oral allergy syndrome. You can also try cooking them, as the cooking process changes the protein so that the immune system no longer recognizes it.
If you’re experiencing symptoms, try taking an antihistamine that you can pick up at Plantation Pharmacy. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Charleston ENT & Allergy today.