Mind and Body

Allergy Alert: Is what you're eating making your summer allergies worse?

Summer allergies and oral allergy syndrome

If you are one of the thirty million people suffering from summertime seasonal allergies, it is important to know about pollen-food syndrome, also known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS), caused by allergens such as ragweed pollen.

Each year, grass pollens and weeds cause seasonal suffering and ragweed begins to bloom around early August in many areas of the U.S.In the warmer climates weed pollens may be seen during much of the year.

Itchiness of the mouth and throat immediately after eating fresh fruits or vegetables are common symptoms of OAS. Oral allergy syndrome results from a cross-reaction between allergy antibodies directed towards pollens with similar proteins that are found in foods in about one-third of seasonal allergy sufferers.Individuals with ragweed allergies might experience these symptoms when consuming foods such as:

  • Banana

  • Cucumber

  • Melon

  • Zucchini

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Chamomile tea

  • Echinacea

Grass pollen allergic individuals might experience symptoms when ingesting

  • fig

  • melons

  • tomatoes

  • oranges

  • Mugwort (weed pollen) allergic sufferers may suffer after eating:

  • carrots

  • celery

  • coriander

  • fennel

  • parsley

  • peppers

Generally, cooking or microwaving the food will eliminate a reaction, but not always.Less commonly it is possible for the OAS to induce mouth and throat swelling if you are allergic to various foods.

For additional information from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at http://www.aaaai.org/media/news_releases/2006/08/080206.stm

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine.He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.

Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist, and diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. He is the medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and author of "The New Allergy Solution: Super-Charge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering." Bassett is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, and faculty at Cornell University Medical College. Follow him on Twitter.