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Unappetizing Effects of Seasonal Allergies

During the spring and summer, some of the fruits and vegetables, that you’ve been missing all winter long, appear in carefully stacked mountains at the local grocer. Those sweet, soft peaches that you smothered in vanilla ice cream may surprise you with the effects they have on your allergies if you have hayfever. After eating certain fruits, vegetables, nuts or spices, you may have noticed:
  • A tingling sensation in the lips or tongue
  • Itching in the tongue, mouth and throat
  • Burning sensation in the lips, tongue mouth and throat
  • Watery, itchy eyes
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Swelling or rash on lips, tongue and mouth
What does hay fever have in common with your favorite produce? Apparently much more than was previously thought. Proteins in certain fruits and veggies might mimic the protein in pollens that cause allergic reactions.

berriesThe sudden onset of these symptoms can be a little alarming and leads many to believe that they have seemingly developed a food allergy overnight. The cause of these symptoms may have nothing to do with food allergies, but could actually be caused by your hay fever or pollen sensitivity. This condition is known as Oral Allergy Syndrome and is not as unusual you might think. Before you start cutting these foods out of your diet forever, try to pin-point when the reaction occurs—does it typically flare up in early spring and late summer? If so, this is a typical sign that you have developed Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Believe it or not, your body is not responding with these symptoms to any sort of pesticide, chemical or wax on the fruit or vegetable, but is reacting to the fruit itself. Oral Allergy Syndrome is more or less about mistaken identity—proteins found in certain foods mimic the allergen proteins present in pollen grains. Because your body has already developed a defense mechanism for pollen, when your mouth and throat are exposed to a similar protein, your body launches an assault. This causes an allergic reaction.

Who is affected?
Individuals who suffer with allergies to certain plants and trees, including: alder trees, birch trees, grass, mugwort weeds and ragweed.

Foods that commonly cause cross-allergic reactions:
  • If you have a sensitivity to alder pollen: almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley
  • If you have a sensitivity to birch pollen: almonds, apples, apricots, carrots, celery, cherries, coriander, fennel, kiwi, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes. Potential: hazel nuts, and walnuts
  • If youhave a sensitivity to mugwort pollen: carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower
  • If you have a sensitivity to ragweed pollen: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, honey dew, watermelon, zucchini. Potential: Dandelions, or chamomile tea
The same intolerance that your body has for inhaled pollens, may also be applied to these lists of foods.

Is there a way to treat Oral Allergy Syndrome?
  1. Peeling fruits and vegetables often eliminates the allergic reaction
  2. Canned, cooked or processed foods usually do not cause reactions—only fresh foods trigger allergies
  3. Fruit that is freshly picked or still partially unripe is less likely to cause reactions
  4. Stop eating food if you notice a tingling sensation around or in your mouth
  5. Be aware that you may develop allergic tendencies towards other items on the lists over time—always be on the alert when eating foods on these lists
  6. Microwaving food briefly to a temperature of 176-194 F degrees may allow you to eat it
  7. Nuts on the lists should be completely avoided—no matter whether they are cooked or not
  8. Immunotherapy (i.e. allergy shots) usually will greatly improve or even eliminate Oral Allergy Syndrome
Don’t be distressed about giving up certain fruit or veggies—check out wikipedia’s entry on Oral Allergy Syndrome for a list of alternative food choices. Oral Allergy Syndriome

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