Oral Allergy Syndrome Makes Season Difficult For Sufferers

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

If you bite into an apple and your lips start to itch or burn, blame it on the season.

"Oral Allergy Syndrome" can make this time of year even more unbearable for allergy sufferers. If you're allergic to Birch pollen, you may also have a reaction to peaches, apples, plums, apricots, strawberries, pears, almonds, potatoes, carrots and celery.

Allergist Jason White, M.D. says, "It's commonly called Oral Allergy Syndrome, but the Pollen-Food Syndrome really describes it a little better."

The proteins in plant pollens that cause allergies are similar to the proteins in some fruits and vegetables and your body can't often tell the difference. So when you take a bite, you have a reaction. It's only serious for a small percentage of people.

Dr. White explains, "Generally, it's localized and so they just have symptoms swelling or itching of their lips, maybe a little bit of their tongue, but this isn't the dangerous kind of swelling that you can have from a life-threatening food allergy. It's more of an annoyance type of problem."

If you're allergic to grass pollen, beware of tomatoes, melons and watermelon. For weed allergies: apples, celery, carrots, peanuts and kiwis. The list grows for people allergic to ragweed. It's not that you have to avoid these foods altogether says

Dr. White, "In general, it's safe to eat the foods, especially if they're cooked. Cooking the food will destroy the protein that causes the symptom."

Canned food usually doesn't prompt a reaction either. But if you can't bear to give up fresh fruits and veggies, just peel off the skin. That's where those allergy-inducing proteins usually hide.

Antihistamines and nasal sprays can alleviate symptoms of oral allergy syndrome. Allergy shots are not recommended, but patients who receive immunotherapy for their plant allergies, usually get relief from their food reactions too.