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Do you have pollen allergies? These foods may give you trouble, too.

Hi everyone! Spring is in full bloom, and hay fever sufferers have definitely noticed. Commonly, this time of year, allergy sufferers experience sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itchy eyes…and itchy mouths.

If you’ve ever had an itchy mouth after eating raw fruits, veggies, or nuts, you are not alone. Up to one third of people with pollen allergies experience this phenomenon. It’s called Oral Allergy Syndrome.

Oral Allergy Syndrome occurs when the body essentially confuses a fruit, vegetable or nut for a pollen protein. For those of us who have pollen allergies, our immune systems are programmed to react to pollen as if it is an enemy, attacking it, and causing us hay fever symptoms in the mean time. In the case of Oral Allergy Syndrome, our immune system sees a fruit, vegetable, or nut, and basically says “close enough!” It attacks the food just like it would attack pollen if you put it direction into your mouth. This is called cross-reactivity. Think of this as your immune system being VERY over-protective of you!

Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome can include itchy tongue, lips, roof of mouth, or the inside of cheeks, and rarely, lip, tongue or throat swelling. Most cases of Oral Allergy Syndrome are mild, but it’s possible for them to cause a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which is life-threatening.

Your oral allergy syndrome trigger foods will be different depending on what pollens or other substances you are allergic to. Here are the foods to watch out for by category:


  • Birch Pollen Allergy: People with birch pollen allergies may react to kiwi, apples, pears, peaches, kiwi, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, and almonds.
  • Grass Allergy: People with grass allergy may react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, and oranges.
  • Ragweed Allergy: People with ragweed allergies may react to bananas, melons (honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelons), tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile tea, and echinacea. (Be careful with herbal supplements – they could actually be making your worse!)
  • Latex Rubber Allergy: Like pollen allergy, people allergic to latex rubber may react to bananas, avocados, kiwi, chestnuts, and papaya.


So how do we avoid having these reactions? Well, the easiest and safest way is to avoid the foods that cause you symptoms. Oral Allergy Syndrome is worse during the given pollen season, but can still happen year-round.

For mild reactions, cooking the foods can help. Eating canned foods instead of fresh foods can also avoid the reactions.

If you have EVER experienced swelling of the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, or any difficulty swallowing or breathing, please contact us immediately. Those symptoms are severe, and warrant carrying an EpiPen to treat a possible life-threatening reaction in the future. Call 651-765-9800 to reach our office.

Be safe, take your recommended allergy treatments, and enjoy this beautiful spring!

Your neighborhood Allergy PA,

Nikki Zack

2 Responses to Do you have pollen allergies? These foods may give you trouble, too.

  1. Ron Winfield says:

    I’ve recently been tested for allergies and birch and sugar maple trees tested positive.
    I’m wondering what the tree pollen count is today. but that’s not my main concern. I think i’m reacting to old paper records. some of the records in the office date back to the 1920s and I get sick whenever I dig into the records. I’ve been banned from the records room. that seems to help. but I visited a used book store in a very old building on Saturday. I was sick on Sunday and still sick today. I’ve taken Claratin and pseusoephed. can you folks help me with this?

    • Allergy Minnesota says:

      Dear Ron,
      Please call our office at 651-765-9800 to make appointment so we can evaluate your situation. Even though you had been tested in the past, things can change and we need to take a look at your situation now to decide what help you need. Thanks for sending us questions!

      Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Clinic

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