Frankly Freddie – Do you have oral allergy syndrome?

After biting into a fruit or vegetable do you have:

A little itch on your lips?  A tingle on your tongue?  A fuzzy feeling in your throat?

When Peggy eats tomatoes she gets congested and has trouble breathing for days.  When Judy eats cantaloupe her throat always feels strange – not painful,  just weird. I think they have oral allergy syndrome.

It’s an allergic reaction — which is usually mild — and can come on suddenly. It seems people can react to common fruits and vegetables they had been eating with no problem for most of their lives.

Foods That May Cause Oral Allergy Syndrome:

  • Apple, Apricot, Carrot, Celery, Cherry, Kiwi, Peach, Pear, Plum, Almond and Hazelnut
  • Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Orange, Tomato, Watermelon
  • Banana, Cantaloupe, Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Honeydew, Peach, Watermelon, Zucchini

“I do think that this is one of the most underreported and under-recognized conditions, ” says Dr. Carah Santos, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver.

People who have OAS are often allergic to plant pollens. Many fruits and vegetables contain proteins that are similar to these pollens. So the immune system can mistake the fruit and vegetable proteins for the plant pollens that caused the allergy.

“We call it cross-reactivity,” explains Santos. “Your immune system sees something as looking very similar to something it already reacts to.”

Fruits and vegetables are not on the list of top allergenic foods; most people have only heard of the top culprits such as eggs, fish and nuts.

The standard tests to detect food allergies often come back negative for people with OAS.

Here are other tips on managing oral allergy syndrome from National Jewish Health:

  • Avoid raw foods that cross-react with your pollen allergens.
  • Take oral antihistamine medications to relieve mild symptoms.
  • Bake or cook foods to degrade the protein and eliminate the cross-reaction.
  • Eat canned fruits or vegetables during  pollen season.
  • Peel the food, as the protein is often concentrated in the skin.

I disagree with the experts at National Jewish Health who advise that people call an allergist when OAS symptoms get worse or occur when eating nuts.  CALL ME . . . I’m not allergic to any people food.


Freddie Parker Westerfield, Connoisseur

4 comments on “Frankly Freddie – Do you have oral allergy syndrome?

  1. I have a friend who can’t eat any fruit – now I know it’s not in her head – it’s in her mouth!
    I sneeze wildly after eating many kinds of candy, but especially chocolate. Doesn’t stop me from eating chocolate.


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