Oral allergy syndrome most often occurs in older school-aged children, teens and young adults who have an allergy to pollen. About one-third of pollen allergy sufferers also have oral allergy syndrome. Oral allergy syndrome can occur at any time of year but could be potentially worse during a specific time of year such as spring, fall or summer when the pollen is present.
Pollens are contained in trees such as birch, grass and weeds including ragweed. If a person is sensitive to a certain kind of pollen, their body reacts to the raw fruits and vegetables that have proteins similar to those pollens they are allergic to.
If a person has a birch tree pollen allergy, they could have issues eating an apple, almond, hazelnut or carrot. Grass pollen allergy sufferers may have problems with melons, peaches and/or tomatoes. Banana, cucumber and melons could cause oral allergy syndrome in people with a ragweed pollen allergy.
After eating a raw fruit or vegetable, a person with oral allergy syndrome will have a localized reaction that could involve the mouth, face, lip, tongue or throat. Tingling, burning or swelling could occur. Usually once the raw fruit or vegetable is swallowed the protein in the food are broken down in the digestive process and do not travel past the stomach. An estimated 2 percent of oral allergy syndrome cases unfortunately progress to becoming a serious life threatening allergy.
If your child complains of tingling, burning or swelling of the mouth, face, throat, lip or tongue for a minute or so after eating a raw fruit, vegetable, almond, hazelnut or sunflower seeds make sure you notify your primary care provider. Allergy testing may be indicated. If symptoms of oral allergy syndrome are present, linger and also include hives, nausea, tightening of the throat or difficulty breathing, your child also could have a life threatening allergy especially to nuts and need emergent care.
If oral allergy syndrome is diagnosed, keep a food diary, record the specific symptoms and note the duration of symptoms experienced after the ingestion of suspected raw fruits and vegetables. Make sure to notify your school nurse of the diagnosis of oral allergy syndrome, so precautions can be taken at school.
If your child is diagnosed with oral allergy syndrome have your child avoid the raw fruits and vegetables that trigger his/her symptoms. Instead of having a raw apple, your child could have applesauce or a baked apple since high temperatures break down the proteins responsible for oral allergy syndrome.