Cross-Reactive Allergies

Are you allergic to ragweed pollen? If so, chances are that you are also allergic to bananas, watermelon, cucumber, zucchini, and chamomile tea. This is a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity wherein the body reacts negatively to certain environmental pollens as well as food items that share a chemical make-up that is similar to these pollens.

Other examples of cross-reactivity include:

  • Birch tree to apple, almond, apricots, hazelnuts, peach, pear, and wheat
  • Grass pollens to melon, tomato, and orange

When the body reacts to proteins in various fruits and vegetables, it is called oral allergy syndrome. Symptoms of OAS include an itching or burning sensation in the lips, mouth, ear canal and throat. It can also lead to swelling of these same areas. Some OAS sufferers may also experience hives, gastrointestinal upset, and hay fever-like symptoms.

These allergic reactions stem from our immune systems overreacting to various proteins (found in pollens and/or fruit) and releasing histamine into the body that can cause a host of symptoms including oral allergy syndrome, hay fever, etc.

Cooking and peeling fruits and vegetables may help stop cross-reactive oral allergy syndrome. If allergies are significantly affecting your quality of life, though, consider seeking a no-shots, no-hassle allergy solution from an AllergyEasy physician. Call 1-877-276 (2SNEEZE) to find an AllergyEasy physician near you.

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.