My mouth itches when I eat certain foods. Does this mean that I’m allergic to that food?
people who have these symptoms actually have a condition known as Oral
Allergy Syndrome (OAS). OAS is a situation in which you are reacting to
certain proteins in foods and it is causing itching and burning of the
lips, mouth and throat.
What other symptoms do people get when they have OAS?
is some disagreement on how to label someone with OAS. Some experts
feel that it should be used to describe people who only have oral
symptoms; others will use it to describe a wide variety of symptoms.
More severe skin reactions such as rash, hives or angioedema and
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea and cramping have
been labeled as OAS.
What causes OAS?
patients with OAS, the protein that they are reacting to is identical
or similar to certain proteins in pollens. The patient is allergic to
the pollen and when the patient eats the food (or otherwise comes in
contact with it, their body reacts to the protein as if it is coming in
contact with the pollen.
What are some of the foods and pollens that are linked in OAS?
are many food/pollen links which are too numerous to list. Some of the
most commonly listed ones include Alder pollen and almonds, apples,
celery, peaches; Birch pollen with apples, pear, plums, peach, celery,
carrot, and wheat; Grass pollen with melons, tomatoes and oranges;
Mugwort pollen with carrots and celery; Ragweed pollen and banana,
watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
Does it matter what time of year it is?
OAS symptoms can occur year-round, it is often worse during the
relevant pollen seasons. In this part of Florida, trees pollinate in the
spring, grasses in the late Spring/early summer, and weeds pollinate in
I’ve noticed that if the food is cooked, it’s not a problem. What does this mean?
food to heat can sometimes change the structure of the protein
sufficiently and therefore the immune system does not recognize it as an
Should I be concerned that this is going to get worse?
patients do not worsen over time. However, there have been many
patients, whose symptoms have continued to worsen gradually over time,
even progressing to anaphylactic reactions.
Is there a test that can help me?
Knowing your pollen allergies can often help you clarify which foods to “watch out for”. Allergy testing for foods, oral challenge procedures and performing elimination diets is also helpful.
What can I do to treat this problem?
is the first step in treating allergies, particularly during the
relevant pollen season. Some patients find they can tolerate the food if
it has been heat treated or otherwise manipulated. Of course this can
be dangerous and should be performed in consultation with a qualified
allergist. For life-threatening reactions, injectable epinephrine is the
treatment of choice. There is some data to suggest that allergen
immunotherapy (allergy shots) to the relevant pollen reduces the
sensitivity to the offending food.