Oh yes - at least one third of seasonal allergy sufferers may have "oral allergy syndrome" -characterized by itchiness of the mouth, lips and throat, as well as the familiar sniffles and sneezing, after ingestion of various fresh fruits, vegetables and even nuts that cross react with tree, grass and weed pollens.
So what can you do? Well in many cases peeling, cooking and heating the fruits can reduce the likelihood of triggering seasonal allergy symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms caused by the cross reaction are more likely during the height of the pollen season for that allergen. That is spring time for seasonal tree and grass pollens in many areas of the U.S., and weed pollens usually during summer and early fall.
So if you are sensitive to tree pollens you may react when eating apples, cherries, pears, apricots, kiwis, oranges, plums, almonds, hazelnut and walnuts. I have actually seen some individuals with seasonal spring tree pollen allergies react to hazelnut flavored coffee!
Grass pollen may cross react with melon, tomato and orange. Those who are sensitive to ragweed and weeds may react when ingesting banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon and even chamomile tea!
Obviously having your seasonal allergy symptoms under control requires planning and often encourages my patients with seasonal allergies to develop an allergy action plan. This way by following the allergy season calendar for your area and knowing the pollen count (go to www.aaaai.org/nab), you will be better prepared for those pesky allergy symptoms before they even begin!
Dr. Clifford W. Bassett
Dr. Clifford W. Bassettis 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. 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.