Oral Allergy Syndrome

Learn more about this outdoor allergy

It might be a strange question unless it actually applies to you - but during the mid to late summer harvest season, and after eating certain foods, do you ever find your mouth or throat becoming itchy? If you do, you could be experiencing Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).

Generally in the middle of August, ragweed starts to produce pollen. This is referred to as “hayfever” season. We’ve all heard of hayfever, and in fact, about 36 million people will be battling the condition this year.

If you have an allergy to ragweed, you could also have cross-reactivity to certain foods. That is where Oral Allergy Syndrome comes in. Certain foods have similar proteins to those in ragweed pollen, and during allergy season when your body is fighting with ragweed, you may be more likely to react to these foods. Ragweed allergies can be significant on their own, but when you add in the possibility of your favorite foods rebelling, allergy sufferers could be in for even more trouble.

How do you know if you have OAS? Typically, you’ll experience an itchy feeling around your mouth and in your throat. You may also experience more significant symptoms such as swelling in your throat - if this happens immediately after eating a specific food, you should consult a physician. Some common OAS trigger foods include bananas, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, chamomile (usually consumed as tea) and Echinacea.

Ragweed allergy sufferers, you’re not alone - people who are allergic to birch tree pollen can also experience symptoms of OAS. In their case, trigger foods can include tree fruits such as peaches, apples, pears and cherries, as well as carrots, hazelnuts, kiwi and almonds.

In most cases, trigger foods are considered “safe” to eat once they have been cooked. Still there are no guarantees; if you have OAS you may have a severe allergic reaction to any one of these foods, cooked or uncooked. If you have any questions about your allergy or what foods you can eat, be sure to consult your physician or allergist.

August 2, 2006
News Release, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

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