Allergic to Fruits and Vegetables?

Does eating fruits and veggies cause you discomfort in the mouth or throat? If so, you may have something called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). With OAS, you may experience itching, tingling, or swelling of the lips, mouth, or throat when you eat raw fruits or vegetables.

Allergic to Fruits and Vegetables

(Pixabay / Unsplash)

What is going on behind the scenes in your body is a whole lot of confusion. The confusion occurs with your immune system, and the reason it occurs is that the proteins found in some types of fresh produce closely resemble the chemical makeup of certain pollens. For example, people who are allergic to birch trees often experience oral allergy syndrome symptoms when they eat an apple.

Note that the body reacts in different ways to these varying allergy triggers. Pollens are likely to cause symptoms such as hay fever. Fruit and vegetable proteins, on the other hand, cause uncomfortable scratching and tingling sensations in the mouth.

Common fruit and vegetable cross-reactions include:

  • Birch and alder trees: Apple, celery, cherry, peach, and pear
  • Grass: Celery, cereal grains, potatoes
  • Ragweed pollen: Banana and melon

Though you may experience oral allergy syndrome symptoms year-round, they are likely to flare when the associated pollen is in season. That means that when you eat an apple when birch trees are pollinating, you’re likely to experience an especially strong sensation of itching in the mouth and throat.

The good news is that if you treat the pollen allergy, the fruit or vegetable sensitivity will likely subside, too. Allergy immunotherapy is the only treatment that has been shown to actually change the underlying allergy instead of just its symptoms. Allergy immunotherapy is available through allergy shots or through oral allergy drops that can be dosed under the tongue. The treatment contains allergen extracts that desensitize the body to the most common allergy triggers. That way, the body can learn to “make peace” with them instead of overreacting to them.

If you have additional food allergies, consider immunotherapy in the form of oral allergy drops for food allergy treatment.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.