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See an Oral Allergy Syndrome Specialist in New Orleans

Oral Allergy Syndrome: Food Chart, Symptoms, and Treatment

Dr. Reena Mehta is a board-certified allergist that can help you get to the bottom of your oral allergy reactions and help you determine if you have oral allergy syndrome in New Orleans, LA.

Dr. Mehta has a great bedside manner and is great with our daughter. She helped us navigate the most up to date treatment options for food allergies in our 9 month old and dedicated one on one attention to us that went above and beyond the norm. She is professional and kind and has a genuine care for her patients. Highly recommend!

– Parker Valergo, 2019

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Food allergy doctor Dr. Reena Mehta in New Orleans, LA
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About Oral Allergy Syndrome

Overview

Symptoms

Treatment

FAQs

People who are allergic to pollen might also be allergic to certain raw vegetables, uncooked fruits, nuts, and spices. For example, if you are allergic to birch tree pollen, you may have reactions triggered by peaches, apples, pears, kiwi, plum coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, and carrots. This is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also known as pollen fruit syndrome or pollen fruit syndrome (PFS).

Oral Allergy Syndrome Chart

Below is an oral allergy syndrome food chart listing the type of pollen allergy and the associated foods it cross-reacts within pollen fruit syndrome:
Pollen Nuts Vegetables Spices Fruits
Birch tree Soybeans, peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts Carrot, celery, parsley Caraway, fennel, coriander, aniseed Apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, pears
Ragweed Zucchini, cucumber Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, kiwi, bananas
Mugwort weed Celery, carrot, bell pepper, black pepper, garlic, onion Paprika, caraway, fennel, coriander, aniseed Grapes, mangoes
Grass Peanuts Swiss chard Melons, tomatoes, oranges
Fruits and vegetables related to the ones that cause PFS symptoms can also trigger allergic reactions. For example, in North America, most patients who are allergic to melons like honeydew, watermelon, and cantaloupe have a weed-pollen allergy. These individuals are also more likely to react to other foods related to melons such as avocado, banana, peach, or kiwi [2-4].

Foods that cause PFS can also cause food allergy. However, oral allergy syndrome is not the same as an isolated food allergy. For instance, some people experience localized mouth, tongue, or throat irritation when eating pineapple. However, this does not mean they have OAS. By definition, patients with PFS must also demonstrate sensitivity to pollen when they react to certain problematic foods.

Eggs, seafood, and cow’s milk are non-plant foods. They do not cause PFS.

Oral Allergy Syndrome Symptoms

Oral allergy syndrome causes symptoms that typically affect the mouth or throat. Symptoms begin a few minutes after eating the problematic food, however, they usually subside once the food has been swallowed.

Symptoms of OAS can vary in severity depending on current pollen conditions and other factors. They are most severe during pollen season and for a few months after. Eating a very large amount of the problematic food, exercising intensely after eating, and drinking alcohol can cause more severe symptoms. Illness and certain medications can also worsen symptoms.

Common symptoms of OAS include:
  • Itchiness of the mouth and throat
  • Tingling of the lips, mouth, or throat
  • Slight swelling and bumps on the mouth or lips
Less common symptoms of OAS include:
  • Itching, redness, or slight swelling of the hands if they are used to handle or peel raw fruits or vegetables
  • Nausea or stomach upset
  • Throat tightness, chest tightness, or difficulty breathing
Woman with oral allergy syndrome having an allergic reaction to nuts and citrus fruitd

Oral Allergy Syndrome Treatment

Oral Allergy Syndrome Natural Cures

Because the allergen is often found on the skin of fruits and vegetables, peeling the skin off may help reduce OAS symptoms or prevent a reaction. However, this does not always work. Heat can help destroy protein allergens that cause OAS. Cooked and canned fruits and vegetables are usually okay to eat because the allergens are deactivated.

Oral Allergy Syndrome Dietary Changes

Avoiding certain fruits and vegetables in their raw forms is the best way to prevent OAS.

Avoiding dehydrated forms of problematic foods is also important because dried foods are not usually cooked. Therefore, they can still cause OAS symptoms.

Woman with oral allergy syndrome having an allergic reaction to bell peppers and stone fruit
If the problematic food has already been eaten, note that for most people, OAS symptoms usually stop as soon as food is swallowed and allergens are destroyed by stomach acid.

Oral Allergy Syndrome Medications

Routinely pre-medicating with an oral antihistamine in order to tolerate eating a problematic food later is not recommended. This is especially true for patients who experience systemic symptoms beyond mild mouth or throat discomfort and for those who have reactions to high-risk foods like some nuts.

However, H1 antihistamines like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl can help reduce symptoms of OAS once they do occur.

Some patients can experience severe symptoms with OAS that do not resolve quickly. In these cases, it is best to carry an epinephrine autoinjector, or Epi-Pen, for injecting epinephrine when a severe allergic reaction like anaphylaxis occurs.

Oral Allergy Syndrome FAQs

Is oral allergy syndrome dangerous?

For most people, OAS isn’t life-threatening. Many patients report mild mouth or throat discomfort. Only 2 to 10 percent have systemic symptoms, and less than 2 percent report anaphylactic shock [7].

What foods cause oral allergy syndrome?

Many foods can cause OAS. Some of these include melons, peaches, apples, celery, carrot, and peanuts. Pollen-related proteins in these foods cause OAS symptoms [2-4,6].

Does oral allergy syndrome go away?

For most people, OAS symptoms go away after a few minutes of eating the problematic food, once digestive enzymes have broken down the protein allergens [4].

How do you get rid of oral allergy syndrome?

Few studies have explored the long-term natural history and prognosis of OAS. However, OAS is known to be a persistent condition. It can be managed with food avoidance and other therapies [5].

Does Benadryl help oral allergy syndrome?

Few studies have explored the long-term natural history and prognosis of OAS. However, OAS is known to be a persistent condition. It can be managed with food avoidance and other therapies [5].

References

[1] American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology: https://www.aaaai.org/
[2] Melon and banana sensitivity coincident with ragweed pollinosis. Anderson LB Jr, Dreyfuss EM, Logan J, Johnstone DE, Glaser J. J Allergy. 1970;45(5):310.
[3] Randomized, double-blind, crossover challenge study in 53 subjects reporting adverse reactions to melon (Cucumis melo). Rodriguez J, Crespo JF, Burks W, Rivas-Plata C, Fernandez-Anaya S, Vives R, Daroca P. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000;106(5):968.
[4] Nowak-Węgrzyn, A. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of oral allergy syndrome (pollen-food allergy syndrome). UpToDate. Accessed August 2020.
[5] Nowak-Węgrzyn, A. Management and prognosis of oral allergy syndrome (pollen-food allergy syndrome). UpToDate. Accessed August 2020.
[6] Nowak-Węgrzyn, A. Patient education: Oral allergy syndrome (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. Accessed August 2020.
[7] IgE-mediated allergy from vegetable allergens. Ortolani C, Pastorello EA, Farioli L, Ispano M, Pravettoni V, Berti C, Incorvaia C, Zanussi C. Ann Allergy. 1993;71(5):470.

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See an Oral Allergy Syndrome Specialist
in New Orleans

If food reactions are complicating your life, see a specialist in New Orleans, LA. Doctor Mehta has a reputation for developing strong relationships with her patients and being exceptionally attentive to their needs and concerns.

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