Oral Allergy Syndrome and You


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apple
Apples are delicious. I love eating apples and dipping them into caramel. However, each time I eat an apple, my lips swell just a bit, and the inside of my mouth gets scratchy. Since this does not bother me much, I still eat apples, despite this slightly unpleasant allergic reaction. 

Of course, because I am a hypochondriac, I Googled why this terribly unpleasant thing happens to me. As it turns out, I'm not alone. This condition that causes this slight allergy is called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). Granted, my mom still insists there is nothing wrong with me, and that because I'm on a prescription allergy pill, I shouldn't have this reaction. 

The first place I gathered information about OAS was from WebMD. From there, I found out that people with pollen allergies (such as myself) have a higher tendency to have OAS, because of the amount of exposure over time. Apparently I have a birch pollen allergy, because apples seem to have the worst effect on me. With that said, I'm not entirely too sure what I am really allergic to, because I've never undergone extensive allergy testing.

Enough about me though. Let's get on with OAS! When people have allergies, the thing they are allergic to causes their body's immune system to attack itself. For many, pollen is a huge culprit. In people with OAS, their immune system has a tendency to treat the proteins similar to pollen as if they are foreign invaders, like certain fruit and vegetable proteins. This is something known as cross-reactivity. The reaction that most people have with OAS is an itchy mouth. Usually, this reaction is limited just to the mouth. 

Sadly, in about two percent of people with OAS, their symptoms could lead to a much more serious reaction, where they could go into anaphylactic shock. If they do not seek treatment right away, they could die. 

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network's website states that the onset is in older children, teenagers, and young adults. The affected people could have been eating the fruit or vegetable for years without it ever affecting them. 

Some of the most common foods that set off OAS are apples, melons, cantaloupe, pears, kiwis, tomatoes, peaches, oranges, and avocados. The foods that set off OAS can be different for many people, and it is also dependent on what specific type of pollen they are allergic to. 

Of course, there is some good news for OAS sufferers who want to enjoy the foods they like the most! Removing the skin off of the affected fruits (if applicable) can help remove the allergy trigger. Cooking the fruits and vegetables breaks down the proteins that cause allergies, so the immune system won't attack them. 

Have you ever experienced this strange reaction, and if so, are there fruits and/or vegetables on the above list that cause this unpleasant feeling?

3 Comments

I actually have a wheat beer allergy. Its really weird. My face will get puffy and red if I drink to much. It makes me sad since one of my favorite beers is Sam Adams Cherry Wheat. I however, just forgo my sinful pleasure and opt for something less likely to land me into anaphylactic shock. This did however make me laugh pretty hard since last week's "How I Met Your Mother" had a great segment on Robin eating lobster after she found out she was allergic to it.

So, I leave you with this gem.
Lobster Incident

I never knew that this "apple phenomena" existed. Though I've had food allergies all my life, I thought my reaction to apples was something very specific to myself. Certain foods do cause me anaphylactic shock, so I was quite worried when a few years ago I bit into an apple and my mouth began to itch and my lips swelled slightly. I'm allergic to pollen, so that explains why apples cause me to react the way I do. Yet, I have no problem eating any of the other fruits or vegetables listing, and I love apple sauce and apple cider. Even if the proteins are broken down, what exactly is happening during that process? Why does my immune system only attack those specific proteins?

My friend always claimed to be allergic to apples but still eats them anyway. She is also allergic to pollen and a couple other things. My other friends and I never believed her when she said her lips got tingly and her mouth gets scratchy from eating apples. We actually always make fun of her! I can't wait to send this to her and tell her that I finally believe her. One thing that is different though... she says that this tingling/scratching only happens when she eats red apples.. not green or yellow. I wonder why this is? I looked online and actually found a bunch of blog posts from people who have the same problem (I am very surprised!) ... But, I can't find any research to explain it. Can anyone find anything on this? I'm so intrigued!

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