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Oral Allergy Syndrome – A Peculiar Allergy That Is Quite Common

Oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food allergy syndrome is a strange allergy that is actually quite common. Most people only experience a mild reaction where they feel tingling or itchiness in the mouth. However, some people can develop severe reactions to eating raw fruit, vegetables and nuts. They can develop nausea, vomiting, and in extreme cases, go into anaphylactic shock, which can be life threatening.

People suffering from this problem find that if they microwave or cook the raw food, they can eat it with no problem. Why do some people have this issue? It seems that it’s connected to hay fever and allergies to pollen. If you are allergic to things like ragweed, grass and birch, you can also become allergic to watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, apples, carrots, nuts, and celery. There is a cross-reaction that occurs because your body can’t tell the subtle differences between the proteins in pollen and the proteins in vegetables and fruit.

When the proteins in the offending foods are cooked or processed, it causes them to denature and then the body can handle them. Ways to eliminate the problem are to avoid or cook all raw vegetables and fruit before eating. Allergy shots to some of the pollens can alleviate or even cure symptoms. Another method that has been used is called sublingual immunotherapy. It works similar to shots, but the allergens are placed under the tongue. Some individuals will successfully be desensitized to the offending immunal trigger.

Oral allergy syndrome usually affects the lips, inside of the mouth, tongue and throat. In about 10% of the those that suffer from pollen allergies, symptoms can be more widespread in the body with 1 to 2% having anaphylactic reactions. In a similar vein, some people that react to latex can have a cross-reaction to fruits like bananas, papayas, pears and mangoes. Fortunately, oral allergy is not a big problem for most, but if you are one of the few that has severe reactions, you need to be extremely careful in what you eat.

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