Cross-reactivity is one of the less commonly discussed aspects of food allergies. Cross-reactivity means that a significant number of people with allergies have actually become sensitized to additional allergens, potentially requiring treatment for oral allergy syndrome and other allergic conditions. For any individual who is experiencing allergy symptoms, getting to the root cause of just why the immune system overreacts to allergens is the best treatment approach.
What Is Oral Allergy Syndrome?
If you suffer from pollen allergies, and you also notice that your mouth and throat become itchy after eating certain fruits and vegetables, there is a good chance you may have oral allergy syndrome, also known as OAS. The reaction is the result of a cross-reactivity in which the body confuses the proteins found in raw fruits and vegetables with similar proteins found in the pollen of certain trees, weeds, and grasses. The proteins trigger the body’s immune system, which initiates an allergic reaction or exacerbates existing allergy symptoms.
What Are the Main Oral Allergy Syndrome Symptoms?
OAS reactions are generally mild and short-lived. Individuals with OAS typically experience swelling and itchiness of the lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and face. In most cases, the symptoms will begin immediately after eating specific raw fruits and vegetables; however, it may be possible for symptoms to appear as long as an hour after eating. OAS can occur at any time of year, but the symptoms may be slightly worse during pollen allergy season.
In rare cases, a person could find that their throat swells and breathing becomes difficult. This reaction – called anaphylaxis – is potentially life-threatening and demands quick action. Calling emergency services and administering epinephrine is the recommended response for a severe allergic reaction.
What Foods Are Responsible for Oral Allergy Syndrome Reactions?
Depending on your particular pollen sensitivity, one or more foods may trigger OAS symptoms. The following are some of the most common pollen allergies along with a few of the foods that may cause OAS symptoms:
- Birch allergies: Apples, celery, kiwi, carrots, and apricots.
- Ragweed allergies: Bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon.
- Grass allergies: Celery, oranges, peaches, and tomatoes.
- Mugwort allergies: Celery, carrots, apples, bell pepper, and cabbage.
It is important to note that only plant-based foods will cause OAS symptoms. If you experience similar symptoms when you eat nuts, you should consult an allergist since it could indicate a more serious food allergy.
Best Treatments for Oral Allergy Syndrome
While many people suffer only mild OAS reactions, protecting yourself from the possibility of a severe response is vital. You can treat oral allergy syndrome with the help of an experienced allergist. The treatment approach your allergist takes will be based on your personal circumstances.
Antihistamines and allergy shots may help alleviate OAS symptoms; however, the best treatment is to avoid your trigger foods. Peeling, cooking, or eating canned fruits and vegetables may also help limit your reaction. You should consult an allergist if your symptoms worsen, cause significant discomfort, or are caused by cooked fruits or vegetables.
How to Diagnose Oral Allergy Syndrome
Initially, your allergist will examine your symptoms and past medical history. With this information it’s possible to conduct skin or blood tests for specific pollen allergies. You may also have food allergy testing to identify whether a reaction is resulting from an issue with food allergens (rather than a cross-reactivity to pollen).
Professional Atlanta Oral Allergy Syndrome Treatment
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our convenient allergy testing and treatment centers are located in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Druid Hills, Duluth and Johns Creek. To reach us, call (678) 668-4688 or request an appointment today.
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