Oral Allergy Syndrome: How to Manage it?

Do certain fruits, vegetables and nuts leave you with a rash in the mouth every time you eat them? If your answer is yes, then you may be having an oral allergy syndrome (OAS). It is the most common food related allergy in adults. In the United States alone, food allergies affect around 3-4% of adults and around 6% of young children.

OAS is thought to be triggered by pollens found from different plant sources. Traces of certain pollens are carried by fruits and vegetables. Hence, individuals with tree pollen allergy are often found to be allergic to one or more fruits and vegetables. The following article gives a detailed description on oral allergy syndrome.

What causes Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Oral Allergy Syndrome
Oral Allergy Syndrome is caused when the otherwise harmless protein in certain fruits and vegetables is perceived by the body as a threat. The body’s immune system sets in and creates IgE antibodies. These antibodies bind with the protein molecules and cause the protective mechanism of the body to gear up and produce something known as Histamine. It is released from the mast cells of the skin, gut and pharynx. Histamine is the substance which is behind the adverse allergic reactions caused in the body.

Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome

    • Symptoms generally set in within minutes of eating food. Most people experience mild reactions. Only 2% of the population can experience anaphylaxis.
    • Severe itching in mouth, lips, nasal cavity, ear canal, throat and pharynx.
    • Burning sensation around lips and mouth.
    • Swelling of lips, tongue and mouth.
    • Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps if the protein one is allergic to is not destroyed by the gastric juices during digestion and ends up resulting in the production of excess histamine.
  • Runny nose, and watery , itchy, red eyes.
  • Skin rashes resulting in clusters of red itchy welts with predefined borders. These are also known as Hives and Urticaria.
  • In extreme cases, anaphylaxis can occur. Airways from the lungs gets inflamed and results in shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing.

What are the types of pollen and which are the fruits and vegetables they are found in?

Remnants of certain types of tree pollens occur in a lot of variety of fruits and vegetables and cause OAS. The tree pollens and the fruits and vegetables they are associated with are discussed below:

Ragweed Pollen – This pollen is found in cucumber, zucchini, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon and banana.

Alder Pollen – It is found in almonds, apples, peaches, pears, parsley, strawberries, raspberry, cherries and celery.

Birch Pollen – It is found in almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, nectarines, peaches,peppers , plums, potatoes, prunes, soy to name just a few.

Grass Pollen – Mostly found in figs, melons, tomatoes and oranges.

Mugwort Pollen – Carrots, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers and sunflower.

Tests to detect the Allergy

In cases of food allergies, It is very important to isolate the allergen or the group of allergens causing the sensitivities. It would be wise to maintain a food journal before visiting an allergist for an allergy test. A detailed history will enable the allergist to detect the allergens faster.

Skin prick test, patch test, blood test or oral challenge test is done to detect the allergen. In an oral challenge test, the physician eliminates the suspected allergens from the patient’s diet. If the symptoms are mild, the physician reintroduces the allergens into the diet and if symptoms reappear then the diagnosis is confirmed.

Treatment of Oral allergy Syndrome

The best way to treat oral allergy syndrome is to prevent the triggers and the factors causing it. The following lines can help you in managing this syndrome and its symptoms.

• Oral allergy syndrome is caused when the food is eaten raw, therefore the good way to prevent this syndrome is to eat properly cooked food. Cooking denatures the proteins and thus the proteins similar to pollen proteins can no longer be present in the cooked food.
• The proteins that can trigger OAS are even present in the skin of the fruits. Therefore people allergic to fruits should eat flesh peeling away the skin.
• If you observe any allergic reaction while eating any food, stop eating it in order to prevent further severe reactions.
• Antihistamines are effective in treating allergic symptoms.
• Severe allergic reactions are treated by giving epinephrine injection.
• Allergy shots for hay fever also provide relief against OAS symptoms.
• Allergen immunotherapy is a treatment method which involves giving the patient larger doses of trigger allergen to induce tolerance to the allergen. This also helps in curing OAS.

Natural Remedies for Oral Allergy Syndrome Treatment

Acupuncture – This is a technique which uses needles that are inserted in specific pressure points to treat allergies.
Naturopathy – This is also one of the popular natural treatment method where many people are resorting today. It eliminates harmful chemicals from the body and therefore prevents side effects.
Vitamin C – This helps in providing relief from allergic reactions. It reduces the release of histamine and also helps in efficient breakdown of histamine.

This is all about oral allergy syndrome.

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