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Apples 2

Does your mouth itch when you eat fresh fruits?

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The Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome (formerly call Oral Allergy Syndrome) is a common yet benign condition caused by cross-reactive proteins in fresh fruits or vegetables and pollens.  The symptoms of lip, tongue, mouth and palate itching, tingling and mild swelling occurs after the ingestion of fresh, but not cooked fruits and vegetables, and occasionally nuts and spices.  The particular protein is heat-labile which means that the high temperature from cooking breaks down (denatures) the protein such that it does not cause symptoms.  This syndrome is especially common in individuals with “hay fever” or seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Common Pollen-Food Allergy associations include:

Birch tree pollen—-fresh apple, peach, pear, plum, cherry, carrot, celery, and hazelnut

Ragweed pollen—- fresh melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew), banana,     cucumber, zucchini, tomato

Mugwort pollen —- fresh apple, carrot, celery, kiwi, peanut, spices (aniseed,  fennel, caraway, parsley, coriander)

Grass pollen ——-fresh peaches, tomato, celery and melons

Treatment typically includes avoiding the fresh food if symptoms are bothersome especially during the allergy season. Another way to reduce reactions is to bake or microwave the food. Eating canned food may limit the reaction. Peeling the food before eating may be helpful, as the offending protein is often in the skin.

The risk of a severe allergic reaction such as anaphylaxis is low; however, if symptoms include difficulty breathing, cough, wheeze, hives, severe throat tightness, rapid pulse or loss of consciousness (shock), seek emergency care as this could indicate a severe food allergic reaction.

This information is solely for informational purposes and not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. 

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