Do you love that tart rush you get when you bite into an apple, but find that it's usually followed by an itchy feeling in your mouth or on your tongue? If so, you might suffer from oral allergy syndrome. As many as one third of allergy sufferers experience oral allergy syndrome, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).

The problem stems from similarities that exist between the protein in fruits and vegetables, and those found in pollen. In people who are highly sensitive, the body may not recognize the difference and as a result, eating these foods can cause the immune system to overact. The reaction usually isn't limited to one allergy season, but can occur any time of the year.

Tasty Triggers

Not all fruits and vegetables are likely to stir up your symptoms. Foods that trigger a reaction usually depend on the specific types of allergies you have. Some overlap can also exist. For instance:

  • Melon, cucumber, and banana can spark a reaction in people with ragweed allergies.
  • Peaches, pears, apples, celery, and carrots can be irritating for people with an allergy to birch trees.
  • Oranges, tomatoes, melons, peaches, and celery can trigger itchiness in people with grass sensitivity.

Oral Allergy Syndrome Symptoms

Regardless of which fruits or vegetables spark your symptoms, you'll likely experience itchiness and/or swelling on your mouth, tongue, face, lips, or throat. These symptoms usually occur right after eating the offending food.

While oral allergy symptoms can be uncomfortable, the good news is that they usually aren't dangerous. However, it's important to be aware that in rare instances, a life threatening reaction can occur. Therefore, if you experience any serious problems that seem to affect your entire body and not just mouth area, you should seek medical care immediately.

What You Can Do

If you suffer from itchiness when you eat fruits and vegetables, but wonder how to be sure if this was caused by oral allergy syndrome, there's no specific test that exists today to confirm this diagnosis. More research is currently being done to better understand the condition and to determine how best to diagnose and treat it. In the meantime, pay attention to what you eat and what symptoms occur afterward, and form your own conclusions. If you find patterns of symptoms that seem to be caused by specific items, your best bet is to steer clear of them in the future. If you don't want to limit your diet in this way, you can also try cooking these foods to see if that makes them easier to tolerate.  You can also peel the skin before eating. Both of these actions may head off the reaction.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI)

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology