Oral Allergy Syndrome
Are you one of the 23 million Americans who suffer from a ragweed allergy? Ragweed is everywhere in the U.S., especially in eastern and midwestern states. Its season starts late in July and early August and ends in mid-October. This common allergen can feel impossible to escape. While a ragweed-producing plant typically lives for only one season, each plant can release up to 1 billion pollen grains that have the potential to travel great distances on the wind. And being outside on a day with elevated ragweed counts isn’t the only way you might be affected. It can also travel into your home on the foods you eat causing Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).
Foods and Oral Allergy Syndrome
“Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is a form of a contact allergic reaction that occurs upon contact of the mouth and throat with raw fruits or vegetables. The most frequent symptoms of OAS include itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although in rare cases, the reaction can occur more than an hour later…OAS can occur at any time of the year.”
Foods that may cause OAS in a person with a ragweed allergy include:
- Honeydew melon
- Chamomile tea
- Cucumber and zucchini
- Honey that contains pollen
- Sunflower seeds
- White potato
Eating these foods, especially during allergy season, can result in any of the following symptoms:
- Itchy throat/tingling sensation
- Watery eyes
- Stuffy nose
- Swollen lips
How to Avoid OAS
In order to manage your OAS symptoms, it’s important to avoid eating any of these foods raw. Baking, cooking, or microwaving food reduces cross-reactions because the high temperatures break down the proteins that cause OAS.
Peeling foods before eating helps remove the high concentration of proteins found on the skin. And canning your fruits and vegetables or eating canned produce can also limit your reaction.
Talk to your doctor if you experience any adverse reactions when consuming raw fruits and vegetables. They can help you identify your allergies and learn how to avoid them.