Have you ever eaten an apple, melon, or zucchini and suddenly felt an itchiness in your throat and mouth? This reaction may be caused by oral allergy syndrome, also referred to as pollen fruit syndrome. Allow us to explain what oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is and what treatment options are available.
The Inside Scoop on Oral Allergy Syndrome
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, oral allergy syndrome is “a form of a contact allergic reaction that occurs upon contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables.” Although not as common, certain nuts can cause itchiness in your mouth or throat upon consumption, as well. However, if you do experience uncomfortable symptoms after eating nuts, we highly recommend speaking to an allergist to determine the underlying cause, as it may be a sign of a serious, life-threatening allergy.
In most cases, itchiness is the only symptom of oral allergy syndrome. Fortunately, the body can easily break down the offending protein which lessens the opportunity for more severe symptoms. Unless you have an extreme allergy to one of the eight most common allergens, OAS will not lead to more threatening conditions such as anaphylaxis.
So, why does your immune system flag a protein found in food as dangerous? It’s because this protein has an uncanny resemblance to certain pollens. The immune system misidentifies the protein found in the fruit as pollen, and it releases histamine to combat the invader.
It’s vital to determine if your itchy mouth and throat is caused by the protein found in the raw food or by another allergen. Our team can perform an allergy test to determine exactly what is causing your symptoms. If it’s determined that you are dealing with oral allergy syndrome, we can treat you using immunotherapy. In the meantime, consider cooking the fruit or vegetable that is causing the itchiness instead of eating it fresh. Cooking the food will break down the protein, and it won’t cause frustrating symptoms.
Oral Allergy Syndrome Tips
Oral allergy syndrome can be frustrating to deal with. Consider the following tips to lessen your frustration while still enjoying your favorite fruits and vegetables:
- Cook the food instead of eating it raw.
- Remove the skin of the food, as proteins are sometimes found in high quantity in the peel.
- Talk to an allergist about allergy testing and immunotherapy.
- If you experience itchiness in your throat or mouth after eating nuts, forego eating nuts until you’ve been tested for a nut allergy.