Oral allergy syndrome

Oral allergy syndrome which is otherwise known as pollen-food allergy is an allergic reaction that is cross referenced between different types of pollens and foods. The person first must have seasonal allergies to certain types of pollens. The allergic response occurs due to the protein in the pollen. The histamine response is also then seen when that person ingests foods that have similar types of proteins. The reaction occurs when ingesting foods that are raw. Cooking or processing breaks down the protein in the foods that cause the allergic response and they may be eaten then without incident.

This type of allergy usually causes a burning sensation of the lips, tongue, mouth and throat upon eating the fresh fruit or vegetable involved. There can also be some swelling of the lips, tongue and the throat may feel tight. The proteins from the fresh fruit usually are broken down by the digestive acids of the stomach. If they are not, then histamine reactions in the small intestines can occur. This can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. These types of allergic reactions are usually mild in nature however up to 10% of people who have this syndrome have reported more severe type reactions. An additional 2% of people who have this syndrome can have very serious reactions such as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can result in shock and death if not treated immediately.

There are correlations between certain pollen allergies and corresponding food allergies. It needs to be said that even though it is possible for someone to have an allergic reaction to all of the foods listed here, that they may only react to one or two initially. These are the pollens and an example of the foods that they have been cross referenced with. This is not designed to be a complete list but more of an example of the types of foods that a person needs to be careful of.

  • Ragweed pollen: bananas, cucumbers and zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, dandelions, Echinacea and chamomile tea
  • Alder pollen: apples, cherries, almonds, peaches and pears
  • Birch pollen: apricots, apples, almonds, bananas, carrots, chicory, kiwi fruit, parsnips, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, and wheat
  • Grass pollen: all melons, oranges, and tomatoes
  • Mugwort pollen: celery, fennel, peppers, parsley, carrots, and sunflower

Anyone that has had a seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever to any pollen is at risk for this syndrome. If a person is concerned and wants to find out if they are sensitive to any of the foods listed above or others they can request skin testing to be done to determine any sensitivity present. The prick-prick type of test has shown to be the most accurate as it is done after dipping a needle into the fresh vegetable or fruit in question then by pricking the person’s skin to see if there is any reaction to the protein in the food. There are other skin testing procedures that can be utilized however they have not proven to be as accurate as the above mentioned test. This is due to the fact that the proteins that a person is allergic to may well be broken down in the process of making the testing materials.

People who have oral allergy syndrome can avoid having reactions by cooking or processing all their fruits and vegetables and avoiding nuts in their diets. Most vegetables and fruits are well tolerated once they have been cooked or commercially processed. Other treatment can include antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies. In addition, allergy injections can be utilized to decrease the sensitivity to the foods and pollens that have caused these histamine responses. These injections have been successful in the past in reducing the severity of reactions noted by people who have oral allergy syndrome.

Last updated on Oct 25th, 2009 and filed under Dental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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