Oral Allergy Syndrome

Have you ever eaten an apple and had an itchy mouth or throat?  Or perhaps you’ve eaten a big watermelon chunk, and you’re ears feel tingly inside.  (This is what happens to me with watermelon.  It’s very annoying to think you’re eating healthy, only to be plagued with itchy inner-ears.)  The reason for this is likely Oral Allergy Syndrome.  It is also called pollen-food allergy syndrome.  These symptoms; itching, tingling, and swelling of the mouth, lips, and throat and sometimes itchy ears; happen because your immune system can’t tell the difference between the proteins in these food and pollen.

Triggers for Oral Allergy Syndrome:

Although not everyone with a pollen allergy will experience oral allergy syndrome when eating the foods listed below, they are known to be associated with the allergens listed.  Basically, if you are allergic to ragweed, you may have a similar allergic reaction to watermelon, melon, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes, and peanuts.  If you eat these foods during the height of ragweed season, your reaction may be more severe.

Allergen Foods
Birch Pollen Apple, pear, cherry, nectarine, apricot, plum, kiwi, hazelnut, almond, celery, carrot, potato
Mugwort (Sage) Pollen Celery, carrot, spices, sunflower, honey
Grass Pollen Melon, watermelon, orange, tomato, potato, peanut
Ragweed Pollen Watermelon, melon, orange, tomato, potato, peanut
Sycamore (Plane tree) Pollen Hazelnut, peach, apple, melon, kiwi, peanuts, corn, chick pea, lettuce, green beans
Plantain (English) Pollen Melon, watermelon, tomato, orange, kiwi
Dust Mite Shrimp, snail


Treatment Options:

  • Avoid the trigger foods altogether
  • Cook the foods, as heat tends to break down the proteins
  • Sublingual immunotherapy drops for food or inhalant allergies

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