There is nothing scarier than having an allergic reaction to food, especially if you are unaware of any food allergies. But what if you are certain of other allergies, like a tree pollen allergy? This could be the allergy causing the allergic reaction while eating and is known as oral allergy syndrome. Recognizing this syndrome can be difficult if you do not know what it is.

What Is Oral Allergy Syndrome?

It is first important to understand exactly what oral allergy syndrome is. This syndrome is caused by cross reacting allergens that are found in pollens and in raw fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts. The immune system recognizes these proteins and produces an allergic response. For example, if you have an allergy to tree pollen then you can have an allergic reaction to apples because the same allergen is found in both. The allergic response creates the following symptoms: oral itching (itchy mouth), itchy throat, and even swelling of the lips and tongue.

How Do I Recognize It?

When looking at the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome, it is important to note that they rarely progress beyond the mouth. This is the key to recognizing that these symptoms are not being caused by an anaphylactic reaction. In the case of anaphylaxis, an epinephrine pen is necessary. A trip to the ER is also important in the case of anaphylaxis as this reaction can be life threatening. While oral allergy syndrome is rarely this severe, it is important to stay aware and monitor symptoms. If these symptoms become severe or if you are unsure, it is important to seek medical attention.

How Do I Manage Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Morgan Peters, an FNP at National Allergy & ENT, suggests different ways to manage oral allergy syndrome. Cooking or heating the food before ingesting will distort the protein found in the raw vegetables, fruits, and tree nuts. Ingesting an antihistamine prior to or shortly after eating the food in question can help with itching and other symptoms. (It is important to note that if you are having an anaphylaxis reaction, an antihistamine will not be as useful, but instead epinephrine and a trip to the hospital is necessary.) Allergy Immunotherapy is another option for managing this syndrome. By completing allergy shots, you desensitize the immune system to the allergens and will be less reactive.

If you need help managing your oral allergy syndrome or other allergies, you can schedule an appointment by calling us at (843) 212-7976 or by scheduling online.