Oral Allergy Syndrome

22nd May 2024

Posted by Dr Michelle Wright

Welcome to Health Matters, Dr Michelle Wright here as usual, bringing you up-to-date information in the world of health and medicine.  

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Today, talking about perhaps a lesser known but important condition: Oral Allergy Syndrome – simply put, an allergic reaction that occurs in the mouth and throat after eating certain raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts.  

It’s linked with other conditions caused by plant allergies, including hay fever and birch pollen allergy. In fact, it’s also called pollen-food syndrome or pollen-food allergy. 

What are the symptoms and when might you experience them?

Imagine biting into a fresh apple, only to find your mouth and lips start to swell and itch a few moments later – the classic symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome.  

The reaction occurs because of cross-reactivity to plant proteins (or allergens) that are similar to those found in pollen.  

For example, if you’re allergic to birch pollen, you might experience oral allergy syndrome symptoms after eating raw apples. People who are allergic to tree pollen might react to other fruits like cherries, or strawberries, and also some nuts, particularly hazelnuts. And those with grass pollen allergy could potentially develop Oral Allergy Syndrome when eating a wider range of fruits, vegetables and nuts.  

Interestingly, cooking or processing these foods usually eliminates the reaction, as the allergens are broken down by heat. 

The good news is that for most people, Oral Allergy Syndrome is more of a nuisance than a serious threat.  

Symptoms typically subside shortly after eating, or perhaps spitting out, the offending food. However, in rare cases, more severe allergic reactions, and anaphylaxis, can occur.  

What foods should you watch out for if you suspect you have oral allergy syndrome?  

Well, common culprits include fruits like apples, peaches, and strawberries, as well as vegetables like carrots and celery. And certain nuts and spices can also trigger a reaction for some people.  

How is Oral Allergy Syndrome diagnosed?

Diagnosis can be challenging as traditional allergy tests may not always be reliable because the process of making the extracts used in the tests can destroy the allergens.  

So, doctors often rely on symptoms for diagnosis. Sometimes, they may recommend skin prick testing with fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a more accurate assessment.  

Is there are cure for Oral Allergy Syndrome?

There’s no specific cure for Oral Allergy Syndrome, so the best approach is avoidance: steering clear of raw foods that cause symptoms and, in some cases, even avoiding lightly cooked varieties.  

It’s also important to be vigilant about hidden allergens and to read food labels carefully. 

So, summing up, Oral Allergy Syndrome is not usually life-threatening, but it can certainly impact your quality of life.  

Understanding your triggers and taking proactive measures to manage your condition can help you navigate the syndrome with confidence – as always, knowledge being power when it comes to your health. 

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