Does Your Mouth Itch or Swell After Eating Fruits and Veggies?

It’s a familiar story. You have been able to eat apples or cucumbers or some other fruit or vegetable all your life. But recently, when you take a bite of these familiar fresh foods, you feel an itching or tingling sensation in your mouth and throat. Perhaps you have even felt your lips or throat swelling. Suddenly, you find that these foods that you once enjoyed (and that should be good for your body) are making you miserable.

Mouth Itch or Swell After Eating Fruits and Veggies

(Pixabay / Mikorad)

Why the sudden onset of uncomfortable reactions to fresh produce? The condition is known as oral allergy syndrome, and its roots go deeper than fruit and vegetable allergies. The syndrome actually stems from pollen allergies. Let’s say, for example, that you are allergic to birch tree pollens. The chemical composition of these pollens is very similar to that of apple proteins—so similar, in fact, that your body can’t tell the difference. As a result, your body may react to these apple proteins with allergy symptoms in the mouth. These oral allergy symptoms are often exacerbated when you eat an apple in spring when birch trees are pollinating.

Of course, apples and birch trees aren’t the only food-to-pollen relations. Here are some common pollens and the fruits and vegetables that they cross-react with:

  • Tree pollens (usually birch and alder) – apple, apricot, nectarine, pear, plum, carrot, green pepper, tomato, peas, beans
  • Grass – Dates, kiwi, melon, orange, tomato, watermelon, peas, potato
  • Ragweed – Banana, melon (including watermelon), cucumber, zucchini

Cross-reactions can also extend to nuts and spices. For example, if you have tree allergies, you may react to almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts.

Why Does Oral Allergy Syndrome Develop Suddenly?

While some people experience oral allergy syndrome in youth, others may not develop it until they are adults. Allergies can blossom at any time, from infancy through old age. As your body becomes vulnerable to different pollen allergies, you may notice corresponding oral allergies.

Is There Treatment for Oral Allergy Syndrome?

If you address the underlying allergy, you can reduce the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome. This can be accomplished through sublingual immunotherapy drops, which work like allergy shots except that they are taken orally. The liquid droplets are dispensed under the tongue where they absorb into the body systems through specialized oral cells. The drops work for both pollen and food allergy treatment (including milk, egg, and nut allergy treatment). As your body becomes desensitized to the pollens that once made you miserable, you can regain your quality of life during allergy season and return to eating fresh produce without experiencing discomfort in your mouth and throat.

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.