Oral allergy syndrome: how pollen + fruit make you feel worse

August 19, 2010 by  
Filed under ALLERGIES

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You would think eating healthy fresh fruit can help you fight your allergies. Unfortunately, some food stuffs, especially certain fruit act as collaborators of pollens to make life even harder for you. Examples are cantaloupes working together with ragweed pollen; apple and birch tree pollen

When these fruits are combined with these pollens, the result is itchy mouth and oral sores on top of your hay fever.

The phenomenon is called oral allergy syndrome and the immune system which treats pollen proteins as foreign invaders also finds similar proteins in fruits and vegetables unacceptable, thus the allergic reaction. It is also called cross-reactivity.

WebMD gives us a few more examples of foods that may have proteins that cross-react with pollen proteins:

Ragweed Allergy: “Ragweed, in theory, cross-reacts with bananas and melons, so people with ragweed allergies may react to honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelons, or tomatoes,” says Warren V. Filley MD, from the Oklahoma Allergy & Asthma Clinic in Oklahoma City. Aside from fruits, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile tea, and Echinacea also cross-react with ragweed pollen.

Birch Pollen Allergy: People with birch pollen allergies may react to kiwi, apples, pears, peaches, kiwi, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, and almonds.

Grass Allergy: People with grass allergy may react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, and oranges.

Latex Rubber Allergy: Like pollen allergy, people allergic to latex rubber may react to bananas, avocados, kiwi, chestnut, and papaya.

Let us thank our lucky stars that oral allergy syndrome seems to be rare in children but emerges when people reach their 20s or 30s.

At any rate, health experts recommend to avoid the above mentioned trigger foods.

I would also say do not give up on your fruit and veggies just because you have these allergies. Luckily there are many other fruit and vegetables that are not in the list above. If you have a seasonal allergy, you should time eating the trigger foods so as not to overlap with the season of the cross-reactive pollen. There are also other ways and means of enjoying your favourite fruit and veggies to minimize cross-reaction.  Dr. Filley also recommends

  • Peeling the fruit before eating
  • Cooking (e.g. apple sauce, zucchini soup)
  • Eating canned fruit
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One Response to “Oral allergy syndrome: how pollen + fruit make you feel worse”
  1. Jesper says:

    I suffer a lot from allergies and i could really recommend to do whatever it takes to keep away from triggers for allergic reactions! Luckily i had an insurance that could pay a vaccination that has cured some of the allergies.

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