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Oral Allergy Syndrome

Published on Oct 25, 2011 with 35 comments

Does your throat itch when eating certain raw fruits?  If so, you probably can be diagnosed as having the Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Although generally not classified as a serious food allergy, the oral allergy syndrome is the most common food related allergy in adults. In actuality, the oral allergy syndrome is not a direct food allergy, but rather it represents cross-reactivity between tree or weed pollens and corresponding foods which share a common allergen.  Because of this relationship, the oral allergy syndrome is seen only in tree and weed allergic patients.

Fortunately, symptoms of the oral allergies are generally mild and transitory. Oral allergy syndrome symptoms are classically itching of the throat, mouth, and tongue. The itchiness of the throat commonly results in the patient trying to relieve this symptom by rubbing the tongue against the soft palate, making a characteristic “clucking” sound.  The vast majority of patients experience symptoms within five minutes of ingestion.  Depending on the time of year, the presentation can be affected by the particular pollen season.

Many fruits and vegetables can elicit symptoms in tree or weed allergic individuals. For example, because ragweed pollen and foods in the gourd family share a common allergen, persons allergic to ragweed may have oral symptoms upon ingestion of foods such as melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew), zucchini, cucumber, and bananas.  Birch tree pollen individuals may develop an itchy throat upon eating apples, pears, and apricots. Ingestion of celery may cause oral symptoms in those allergic to mugwort pollen.

It is important to note that symptoms are caused by the ingestion of only raw or uncooked fruits or vegetables. The heating process that occurs during cooking breaks down the allergic protein and, as a result, even patients with the oral allergy syndrome can usually tolerate these cooked foods without having symptoms.


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