You’re eating a piece of fruit when your mouth starts feeling itchy. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. You have pollen allergies, but are you developing a food allergy, too? Chances are you’re actually dealing with a pollen-allergy-related condition called oral allergy syndrome.

What is oral allergy syndrome?

Oral allergy syndrome is a condition in which people experience an itchy mouth or scratchy throat after eating certain raw fruits, vegetables, and some tree nuts. They may also experience swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat. They may even get itchy ears.

CEENTA Otolaryngologist John Kilde, MD

While people may think these symptoms are from food allergies, they may actually be related to pollen allergies. This is because the proteins found in some fruits and vegetables are similar to those found in pollen. This can confuse the immune system and cause an allergic reaction.

It is important to rule out food allergies, however, especially with symptoms related to tree nuts and peanuts. That’s because those allergic symptoms can be a precursor to life-threatening reactions, including anaphylaxis, CEENTA Otolaryngologist John Kilde, MD, said.

What should you watch out for?

Those with oral allergy syndrome usually have an allergy to ragweed, grass, or birch pollens. People with grass pollen allergies can experience reactions to:

  • Celery
  • Melons
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Tomatoes

People with ragweed pollen allergies, might react to:

  • Bananas
  • Cucumbers
  • Melons
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Zucchini

People with birch pollen allergies could react to:

  • Apples
  • Almonds
  • Apricots
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cherries
  • Hazelnuts
  • Kiwis
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Plums

Oral allergy syndrome is more common in older children, teens, and young adults. People who experience it often have eaten fruits or vegetables for years without a problem. Oral allergy syndrome does not typically appear in young children.

How do I avoid Oral Allergy Syndrome?

The best way to avoid these symptoms is to:

  • Avoid eating these raw foods, especially during peak allergy season
  • Cook them instead of eating them raw, as that will break down the proteins responsible for oral allergy syndrome
  • Peel them, as the protein is often concentrated in the skin

If you suspect you have pollen allergies or oral allergy syndrome, you should make an appointment at one of the CEENTA offices that does allergy testing. They will test you to see if you have any allergic reactions and will help you come up with a treatment plan if you do. This can include anything from over-the-counter medicines to immunotherapy.

Don’t let pollen allergies keep you from enjoying your favorite fruits and vegetables. Make an allergy appointment at CEENTA today.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. To make an appointment with an allergy specialist, call 704-295-3000.


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November 21, 2019

Have had this issue for years, and I love fruits and vegetables. My list of reactions to foods keeps getting bigger! Started with apples, carrots, melons, and celery and is moving on to more fruits and even nuts! Should I continue to eat the fruits and vegetables that cause my OAS or is it potentially dangerous?
- Amy Whittaker

November 21, 2019

Good morning. We strongly advise discussing your concerns with your doctor. They will be able to test you and determine what, specifically, you might be allergic to. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

October 04, 2019

Food allergy and OAS or oral allergy syndrome both are different things. When it is about oral allergy syndrome, situation can become dangerous if you do not pay attention to the precautions regarding the kind of food you eat. Thanks for explaining this difference here. Surely, this is going to be very helpful for everyone.
- Dentist Mandarin Florida

November 13, 2018

What about Avocados? They tend to always make my throat and ears super itchy.
- Smaldonado

November 14, 2018

Good morning. Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, we cannot make diagnoses over the Internet. We recommend you make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your specific medical concerns with them. Thank you.
Reply From: CEENTA

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