This may have happened to you: you bite an apple, a kiwi or a fruit and your mouth suddenly itches, but you are sure that you are not allergic to the fruit you just ate. Why does this happen?
Experts call this phenomenon Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) as well as Pollen Fruit Syndrome (PFT). Pain is very common and is the result of a cross-reaction. Simply put, your body recognizes the proteins in the fresh fruit you just ate as similar to the proteins in the pollen you are actually allergic to.
What is Oral Allergy Syndrome?
According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, OAS is “a type of contact allergic reaction that occurs when the mouth and throat come in contact with raw fruits and vegetables.” The most common symptoms are usually “itching or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, and throat” after swallowing.
“It is usually a reaction to fresh fruits, nuts or vegetables in patients with hay fever who are allergic to tree, grass or wheat pollen,” the doctor explained. Svetlana Kriegel is a certified allergist at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences and the University of Toledo Medical Center. “About 15% of patients react to fresh vegetables because the immune system considers fruit protein to be a pollen protein.” Your body thinks you have swallowed the type of pollen you are allergic to.
There are more than 180 foods that cause “real” food allergies, some of which are fruits and nuts, the doctor explained. Kathy Marx-Kogan, chief allergist Ready, set, meal! “But when it comes to food, the reaction often stems from a cross-reaction and this syndrome.”
The most common pollen allergies associated with OAS are birch trees, grasses and wheat varieties, the expert said.
What are cross-reactors?
In general, there are four categories of environmental allergens that intersect with the types of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that cause allergic-like reactions.
This chart from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology is very useful in identifying foods that cause reactions.
Just as some fruits are present at certain times of the year, certain types of pollen are more common in certain months. In other words, the reaction that many people associate with summer fruits does not belong to that period, but simply indicates sensitivity to a type of pollen. Some people struggle with allergy-like symptoms during the winter, spring, and fall, as well as in the summer months after eating invisible foods.
What are the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome?
There are a few important things to keep in mind when analyzing OAS symptoms.
First, the symptoms are usually oral. “When we digest fruits, vegetables, and nuts, the protein breaks down in our system, and it doesn’t become like the first reaction,” explained Marx-Kogan. As a result, the most common symptoms are itching, itching, and itching of the mouth, lips, and throat. However, sometimes runny nose and sneezing may occur.
If you have an anaphylactic reaction to any of these foods, you may be allergic to fruits, vegetables, or nuts, which simply does not indicate sensitivity to pollen in their cross-reaction.
Is there any way to prevent the reaction?
The easiest way to avoid reacting to any of these fruits, vegetables and nuts is, of course, not to eat them at all. Bake them or microwave them for a few seconds to help prevent symptoms.
Interestingly, when people eat food in its raw state, such as canned or cooked food, reactions usually do not occur. This is because cooking fruits, vegetables and nuts actually changes their protein content, and the immune system stops binding this protein to various other allergens. So, for example, if you are sensitive to raw peaches, when you eat baked peach pie, you may not have the same symptoms.
“All of these allergens are affected by heat,” Kriegel explained. “You can’t eat fresh apples, but you can eat apple jam, for example. You can’t eat apricots, but you can canned apricots. This is because when it is cooked, its configuration changes. ”
Eaters should also keep in mind that the main allergens, according to Kriegel, are located in the skin and heart (near the seeds) of fruits, vegetables or nuts. Eating a portion of a piece of fruit does not alleviate the discomfort.
The most widely discussed treatment is allergy immunotherapy, which consists mainly of regular injections of allergens. Once you have identified the vegetables or fruits, you can perform a skin test to test your sensitivity to pollen. We then hope that the bullets will reduce your body’s sensitivity to allergens in the environment and teach your immune system not to react to them.
“Once you stop reacting to pollen, your sensitivity to vegetables also decreases,” Kriegel said. “We use pollen extract to resist the effects of protein without causing a reaction in the body. Then the body asks, “Why does my body react when I eat a lot of pollen, cucumbers or apples?”
Instead of undergoing therapy, eating more fruits, nuts, and vegetables that trigger the reaction and “growing up” the syndrome has not been proven successful.
“There is anecdotal evidence,” Marx-Kogan admitted. “However, as an adult, it is difficult to know how much extract your body needs to get used to it. Young children develop an immune system, so we recommend exposure to possible allergens, but it will be more difficult to detect when they grow up.
What should we do after the reaction?
Experts note that since these are not “real food allergies,” the symptoms usually subside within minutes. Taking antihistamines (such as benadril) can help relieve itching or burning relatively quickly.
In general, doctors recommend informing. Once you know which fruits, vegetables, and nuts are reacting, take a skin test to find out which pollen you are actually allergic to.