Oh yes — at least one third of seasonal allergy sufferers may have “oral allergy syndrome” —characterized by itchiness of the mouth, lips and throat, as well as the familiar sniffles and sneezing, after ingestion of various fresh fruits, vegetables and even nuts that cross react with tree, grass and weed pollens.
So what can you do? Well in many cases peeling, cooking and heating the fruits can reduce the likelihood of triggering seasonal allergy symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms caused by the cross reaction are more likely during the height of the pollen season for that allergen. That is spring time for seasonal tree and grass pollens in many areas of the U.S., and weed pollens usually during summer and early fall.
So if you are sensitive to tree pollens you may react when eating apples, cherries, pears, apricots, kiwis, oranges, plums, almonds, hazelnut and walnuts. I have actually seen some individuals with seasonal spring tree pollen allergies react to hazelnut flavored coffee!
Grass pollen may cross react with melon, tomato and orange. Those who are sensitive to ragweed and weeds may react when ingesting banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon and even chamomile tea!
Obviously having your seasonal allergy symptoms under control requires planning and often encourages my patients with seasonal allergies to develop an allergy action plan. This way by following the allergy season calendar for your area and knowing the pollen count (go to www.aaaai.org/nab), you will be better prepared for those pesky allergy symptoms before they even begin!