Does the itchiness that comes with eating an apple, peach, or carrot deter you from getting your necessary servings of fruit and veggies? If so, you may have oral allergy syndrome—or an allergy to fruits and vegetables. What's worse is that if you're also allergic to ragweed, grass, pollen, or birch, you're more likely to have this kind of allergy.

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Oral Allergy Syndrome is caused by a cross reaction to the allergens contained in raw fruits and vegetables that are similar to those found in nature. This means that if your immune system typically overreacts to trees, grass, or ragweed, it may recognize a similar protein in some foods and respond accordingly.

Here are some examples: If you're allergic to grass pollen, then things like tomatoes, oranges, peaches, melons, and celery can pose a problem. When ragweed is your allergen, bananas, melons, cucumbers, and zucchini can cause a reaction. For people with birch allergies, apples, carrots, pears, and plums are a few of the fruits and vegetables that may be troublesome.

Signs of Oral Allergy Syndrome

Some of the typical signs of this fruit and vegetable allergy include:

  • Itchy mouth and throat
  • Swollen lips, throat, and tongue
  • Itching inside the ear
  • Hives around the mouth

To diagnose the condition properly, you will need to describe your symptoms to your doctor so that she can use prick tests and an oral food challenge.

Now You See It, Now You Don't

For some people, oral allergy symptoms appear only during their allergy season. This means that if you're allergic to ragweed, in the winter you'll be able to eat all sorts of fruits and vegetables with no problem, but in the fall when ragweed levels skyrocket, eating certain foods can set off a reaction.

In addition, while raw fruits and vegetables can cause symptoms, often cooking these same foods can change the proteins and make them unrecognizable so your body can suddenly tolerate them.

Coping With Oral Allergy Syndrome

Symptoms are typically limited to the mouth area, although it could react to other parts of the body where the food in question touched. Most symptoms will resolve without posing danger of progressing into anything more serious, but in rare cases, the risk of having an anaphylactic reaction does exist. Therefore, it's important to work with your doctor to identify high-risk foods and select the safest choices for your situation. For those fruits and vegetables that do cause oral symptoms, try to cook them so you can get the nutritional value without the discomfort that might otherwise go along with it.




"Oral Allergy Syndrome." Allergy and Asthma Network: Mothers of Asthmatics. Mothers of Asthmatics, 5 Feb. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.

"Oral Allergy Syndrome." American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. ACAAI, n.d. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.

"Oral Allergy Syndrome." Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. FAAN, 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 11 Nov. 2011.