Oral allergy syndrome(OAS) is an allergy to food caused by raw fruits, vegetables, spices and nuts because it contains a protein similar to that of a pollen you have an allergy to. This is common in many people who have allergies to the seasons. You should recognize oral allergy syndrome symptoms if you think you have this bothersome allergy.
Oral Allergy Syndrome Symptoms
The condition is characterized by a unique itching inside the mouth and throat, but some more oral allergy symptoms that can occur are:
- Tingling in mouth, throat and lips
- Swelling of the mouth, throat or lips
- Bumpiness of the mouth, throat or lips
- Itchiness, redness or swelling on the hands if peeling the food
If the allergy is severe, a person can develop whole-body reactions that can cause:
- Upset stomach or nausea after eating the food
- Throat tightness
- Chest tightness
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty breathing
What Causes Oral Allergy Syndrome?
This allergy is caused by proteins in foods that come from plants, mainly raw fruits and vegetables. Nuts and legumes may also trigger the allergic reactions and this may be severe because a normal allergic reaction to nuts can be fatal. Dairy, seafood and meat will never cause oral allergy syndrome symptoms.(1)
The allergens that cause the symptoms come from the food touching the mouth and throat. The residue that is left in your mouth will cause inflammation in the skin. Once the food reaches the stomach, the acid usually destroys the allergen and it doesn’t cause further symptoms. Heating, cooking or canning also destroys the allergens, so cooked or canned produce won’t cause symptoms.(2)
The reactions experienced in OAS are not severe and likely hasn’t killed anybody, but it can be very stressful for the sufferer. As a person with an oral allergy syndrome to certain raw fruits and vegetables, it is annoying to constantly avoid the foods that give me symptoms and can be debilitating if I eat one by accident. If this happens to me at work or school, it gives me pain from the inflammation in my throat and mouth so I am obviously not performing at my highest potential. As a teenager, I worked as a food server and cashier, so having a swollen throat and itchy face definitely made the social interaction difficult.
Oral allergy syndrome is not an allergy to raw fruits or vegetables, but a cross-allergic reaction caused from your allergy to the seasons. The protein molecules in the pollens of birch, grass and ragweed are similar to that of certain foods.
The foods that most commonly trigger reactions in people allergic to birch are:
The birch pollen allergy season starts in February until May during the Spring.
The allergy is most common near the east of the Rocky Mountains, but is also well documented in Europe. This is where birch trees are mostly concentrated on the planet.
The foods that trigger reactions in people allergic to grass pollen are
The grass pollen allergy season occurs during the summer and causes allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis and asthma. If someone is mowing the lawn nearby, skin itching can occur—Urticaria and atopic dermatitis.
The allergy is common equally around the world wherever there is grass.
If you are allergic to ragweed, then you may develop symptoms when consuming
Ragweed plants mature in the mid-summer and grow small flowers that generate pollen that peaks in environmental concentration during the early Fall. The season ends with the first freezing of the ground—when all of the ragweed plants die. This can be as early as October and as late as December.
Ragweed allergy is common in North America, especially in Canada. (3)
Treatments and Cures for Oral Allergy Syndrome
If you experience allergic reactions from eating raw fruits and vegetables, there are a multitude of factors to consider what is causing oral allergy syndrome symptoms in your body. In a healthy body, this condition would not be present because OAS is a sign that your immune system is over reactive and needs rebalancing.
First, you should remove the triggers for your reactions in your diet. Simply avoiding the offending allergens is always the best treatment. Actively look on ingredients list for the raw fruits that cause discomfort. Perhaps you could keep a diet journal to help you log your meals and identify which foods are the biggest problems.
The majority of people don’t consider if allergies can be cured, but they can with a certain amount of effort and knowledge. You must focus on a few things so that you can restore your immune system to its proper condition and be able to consume the foods that give you symptoms while inflammatory response is reserved for poisonous invaders and substances.(4)
It’s important to be hydrated if you experience oral allergies because histamine is very dehydrating. Adequate pure water as well as drinks and fruits that contain electrolytes will be effective. Coconut water and bananas are very hydrating if they don’t trigger a reaction.
Fix Your Diet
Refined simple sugars, trans-fats, additives, unclean water, baked goods, processed food and drugs constantly stimulate your immune system. It would be best to remove these from your intake and replace with whole foods abundant in variety and nutrition.
The phytonutrients found in plant foods are excellent immune modulators. Resveratrol and quercetin is found in apples, onions, grapes, olives, cherries and berries, which may help relieve your seasonal allergies that correlate with oral allergy syndrome symptoms. Be sure to keep in mind that you should avoid the offending foods if they cause inflammation.(5)
Stress increases inflammation in the body and can exacerbate allergic reactions. This will make it hard to train your body to not be so reactive to allergens. Try some stress-relieving activities like yoga, meditation or a nice warm bath.
Support Your Digestive System
The majority of the immune system, about 70 percent, is located in your gut. You can reduce the load on your immune system by avoiding foods that harm your gut, like sugars and salt, and making sure you implement probiotic foods as well as prebiotics. Onions, leeks and leafy vegetables are great for your gut because they have fibers that your digestive tract needs to maintain a healthy environment.(6)
Cooking the Offending Foods
Cooking will denature the protein that cross-reacts with the pollen that you are allergic to. Raw carrots trigger my oral allergy syndrome symptoms but once I cook them for a few minutes in boiling water, I can eat them just fine.(7)
Reportedly, freezing the food may sometimes denature the protein enough for OAS sufferers.
An OTC Antihistamine
If cooking and avoiding the food isn’t working out, you can take an allergy medication that blocks histamines before or after eating the problem food. If the OAS is severe, allergy shots administered by an allergist can reduce the allergy to the original pollen sensitivity.
A new approach to dealing with allergies involves a doctor inserting extracts of allergens under the tongue to achieve the same results as allergy shots without the side effects. This technique is not yet approved of the FDA, but it if offered by many allergists and proves to be very promising.
This immunization process involves using the actual food itself to rid the body of the allergy, which is very interesting and provides hope for the future of food allergies.
In a study at Duke University, children with peanut allergies were given doses of peanut under the tongue over a long period. Many of the children experiences de-sensitivity to the allergen.(8)
I have personally suffered from oral allergy syndrome symptoms all my life, but I have become used to treating them and the allergy has gotten much less severe. I have an allergy to ragweed in the Fall, so bananas, melons, carrots and kiwis cause my mouth and throat to itch while my throat swells and produces excess mucous. I have to constantly clear my throat and my head feels like it has so much pressure. This is embarrassing if I have to perform at work or school.
As a child, I did not know of OAS but I mostly avoided the offending allergens. When I discovered what it was, I started taking emergency antihistamines(Allegra) if I consumed the food and this seemed to help. Cooking the foods will prevent the oral allergy syndrome symptoms entirely.
This is, of course, if I wasn’t able to avoid the allergens.