Oral Allergy Syndrome

By Dr. Todd Meyer March 30, 2017

Seasonal allergies are bothersome, but many are unaware that the combination of food and pollen allergies can provoke an allergic response.

With various types of plants coming into bloom this time of year, many of us are consumed by allergies. But what most people are unaware of is that foods and pollen allergies can actually affect one another. Certain foods, like the ones listed below, can react similar to pollen to the body's immune system and provoke an allergic response.

For example in the springtime, with the substantial amount of tree pollen, it is common for me to see patients who complain of an itchy mouth when eating certain foods. For instance, apples can sometimes cause these symptoms during tree pollen season.

Oral allergy syndrome, an allergic reaction in the mouth, is another common form of IgE-mediated food allergy, which is an immediate hypersensitivity reaction. If you experience an oral allergy syndrome, you will immediately notice when you have a bodily reaction and connect the incident to a certain food you have just eaten, which means you may rarely seek medical attention.These local IgE-mediated reactions result in an immediate swelling of the lips, tingling of the tongue and throat, and blistering of the oral mucosa. Symptoms usually are short-lived and most commonly associated with eating various fresh fruits and vegetables that cross-react with their specific allergic pollen, causing post-nasal drip and congestion.

Cross-reactivity between inhalant allergens and foods is common; oral allergy syndromes are estimated to affect up to 40 percent of patients with pollen allergies, especially to birch, ragweed and mugwort pollens. Major cross-reactive relationships between inhalant pollens and food includes:

birch bark, trees

Birch:

 apple, apricot, carrot, celery, hazelnut, kiwi, parsley, peach, peanut, pear and potatoes
(Avoid these foods from January through May)

bug, mite, microscopic

Dust Mites:

 shrimp and snail
(Avoid these foods year round)

grass

Grass:

 kiwi, melon, tomato, watermelon, wheat and other grains
Johnson grass: corn, millet, sugarcane and sorghum
Timothy grass: kiwi, latex
(Avoid these foods from May through October)

balloons, latex

Latex:

 avocado, banana, chestnut, kiwi, and rose family fruits including cherry, peach, apple, pear, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, plum, apricot and almond
(Avoid these foods year round)

mugwort, plant

Mugwort:

 carrot, celery and coriander
(Avoid these foods from July through November)

Ragweed:

 banana, cucumber, lettuce, melons, watermelon and milk
(Avoid these foods from July through November)

If you think that the oral allergy symptoms you are suffering from could be from an inhalant or food allergy, you should discuss this with your physician for an allergy testing or recommendations on medications to control these underlying allergies. I also would suggest calling Affinity NurseDirect at 1 (800) 362-9900 to talk to registered nurses who are available 24-7 to answer questions and give advice.

Dr. Todd Meyer provides comprehensive care for the full spectrum of ear, nose, throat and related conditions. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy and is board-certified in otolaryngology. In his free time, Dr. Meyer enjoys mountain bike riding and long walks with his four dogs exploring the wilderness.