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.