Johnny Appleseed, thanks for the allergies!

Johnny Appleseed Day is celebrated in the month of September (September 26th to be exact). It’s Mr. Appleseed (real name John Chapman) that we can thank for the vast presence of apple trees in America. He planted trees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and present-day West Virginia. That’s great news for apple eaters but not so good for sufferers of apple allergies. If eating an apple causes your mouth or throat to get tingly, itchy, or swollen, you may have an apple allergy. Apple allergies can also lead to hives or stomach pain.

apple allergy

At the root of most apple allergies is a condition known as Oral Allergy Syndrome. If you have OAS, you are most likely allergic to certain plant pollens. The trouble is that proteins in various fruits look very similar in their chemical make-up to certain pollens. So if your body is allergic to, say, birch trees, it will also also react to proteins in apples that closely resemble birch pollens.
Individuals with OAS typically have birch, ragweed, or grass pollen allergies. Oral allergy syndrome symptoms are more common in older children, teenagers, and young adults.

Managing Oral Allergy Syndrome

You can start managing your OAS by avoiding trigger foods. Other tactics can also help:

  • If you’re allergic to certain types of fruits or veggies, cook them before eating. (You may not be able to eat a crisp, fresh apple, but a baked apple or applesauce may not cause any symptoms.)
  • Try peeling fruits and veggies. Many trigger proteins are found in the peel.
  • Try canning. It’s an efficient way to break down proteins that lead to allergies.

If you are tired of limiting your food choices, there are some promising new options for treating OAS. Sublingual immunotherapy is an alternative to allergy shots wherein a desensitizing “allergy serum” is taken under the tongue instead of through skin injections. This treatment has been shown to be effective with a variety of food allergies including Oral Allergy Syndrome.

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.