Ever bite into a fresh peach or piece of melon and your mouth feels itchy, or your lips swell? It’s not just in your head — it’s called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). Also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome, it happens when you eat certain raw fruits, veggies, or nuts that contain cross-reacting allergens. If you suffer from seasonal allergies to birch, ragweed, grass, or mugwort pollen, your risk for OAS is increased. That’s because your immune system can’t tell the difference between pollen and the protein in certain trigger foods.
Aside from itching, tingling, or swelling around the lips, mouth, tongue, throat, or ears, other OAS symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, hives, dizziness, or diarrhea. Often symptoms are mild and show up immediately after eating the food, but reactions can take up to an hour. In some rare cases, shortness of breath or tightness in the throat can indicate a risk for anaphylaxis, similar to a peanut allergy. If you experience these life-threatening symptoms, call 911.
Here’s a list of foods to watch out for. Note that OAS reactions can be worse if you consume these foods at the height of pollen season. You can avoid symptoms by simply avoiding your trigger foods, but you could also try peeling, cooking, or eating frozen versions.
It’s also important to know that even if you do suffer from seasonal allergies to birch, ragweed, grass, or mugwort pollen, you could be totally fine eating these foods. If you’ve never had an issue, there’s no need to avoid them. It is possible to develop OAS symptoms to foods that previously didn’t cause issues, so just be aware if you notice any issues.