BY TERESA WELSH
It’s that time of year where seasonal allergies strike with runny noses, itchy eyes and scratchy throats. But those who suffer from pollen allergies can also have other hidden allergies to fruits and vegetables they may never have known about.
Seasonal allergy sufferers, like those with asthma and hay fever, can also have oral allergy syndrome, known as OAS. People with the condition experience tingling or itching when they eat certain raw foods, indicating an allergic reaction to some fruits and vegetables. Symptoms include itching or swelling in the mouth and throat and on the tongue and lips.
“Oral allergy syndrome is due to a cross-reactivity between plant proteins from pollen and fruits or vegetables,” the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia reports. “When a child or adult with pollen allergy eats a raw fruit or vegetable, the immune system sees the similarity and causes an allergic reaction.”
Foods in the same botanical family can cause reactions. The following pollen allergies can trigger certain cross-reactions:
Ragweed: Bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) 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
Grass: Peaches, celery, melons, tomatoes, oranges
Mugwort: Celery, apple, kiwi, peanut, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers
Alder: Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley
Latex: Bananas, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, papaya
Both children and adults are susceptible to the condition, although the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia says adults can be more affected.
Symptoms can be eliminated by cooking or baking foods that cause a reaction, or eating canned fruits or vegetables. Oral antihistamines like those taken to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms can also ease reactions.
Symptoms don’t usually spread beyond the mouth, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, but the condition could become systemic. In one study, 9 perecent of those with OAS experienced more drastic allergy symptoms, and 1.7 percent ha anaphylactic shock.