Do fruits & vegetables make your throat or mouth itch? It may be due to pollen allergies.
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.
Oral allergy syndrome may occur in up to one-third of individuals with seasonal allergies and results from a cross-reactivity between seasonal airborne pollen proteins (i.e. tree, grass, weed) with similar proteins that are found in various fresh fruits and vegetables. The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness, swelling and hives affecting the mouth, face/lip and throat area. If not properly managed, these symptoms can take a heavy toll on an allergy sufferer’s quality of life. For instance, individuals with ragweed pollen allergies might experience these symptoms when consuming foods such as:
- Sunflower seeds
- Chamomile tea
Oral allergy syndrome is also common in people with birch tree pollen allergies. Foods that can trigger a reaction in people with this allergy include:
Generally, if individuals with pollen allergies experience any symptoms of OAS, they should avoid eating the foods listed above, especially during the high pollen seasons. However, cooking the food will frequently reduce and/or eliminate a reaction, though this is not always the case. Sometimes, OAS can induce severe throat swelling or even a systemic reaction in a person who is highly allergic. If you have any food associated symptoms, see an allergist/immunologist for an appropriate evaluation, including diagnostic allergy tests which will determine whether or not you should avoid eating certain foods. These tests will also determine which pollens may be involved.
It is important to know specifically what foods may cause you problems, but also what pollens and what seasons may be the worst for you. Allergen immunotherapy (or “allergy shots”) is a highly effective treatment for reducing and possibly eliminating pollen allergy. It has been shown in some to reduce OAS symptoms as well.
You should see an allergy/asthma specialist if you:
- Experience itchy mouth from raw fruits or vegetables
- Have limited their diet based upon perceived adverse reactions to foods or additives
- Have prolonged or severe symptoms of rhinitis
- Have nasal polyps
- Have co-existing conditions such as asthma or recurrent sinusitis
- Have symptoms interfering with quality of life and/or ability to function
- Have found medications to be ineffective or have had adverse reactions to medications
- Are a child with allergic rhinitis, because immunotherapy may potentially prevent the development of asthma