Oral Allergy Syndrome

When it comes to health issues, allergies are quite common. Many people have allergic reactions to pollen and pets and suffer from seasonal allergies and hay fever. There is another type of allergy that you may not have heard about called oral allergy syndrome (OAS). If you are suddenly experiencing tingling or swelling in your mouth and throat when you eat certain foods, you may have developed this food allergy.

What is OAS

OAS, also called pollen-food allergy, is not usually found in children. It can be developed later in life and can occur at any time of year. It is most common during the pollen season. While OAS is not actually a food allergy, it is a reaction to the remnants of weed or tree pollen found on fruits and vegetables. 60% of all food reactions in adults are caused by a cross-reaction between inhalative allergens and the foods we eat.

Your body’s immune system is able to identify specific proteins like viruses, bacteria, and harmful germs. OAS occurs when your body confuses pollen proteins as being harmful. Cooking foods will usually destroy allergenic proteins. The problem occurs when eating raw fruits and vegetables and the allergens are not destroyed by stomach acids.

Symptoms of OAS

Healthline explains that the symptoms of oral allergy syndrome can vary, but they are usually concentrated in the mouth area. The symptoms may include:

• Tingling and itching on the roof of your mouth or tongue
• Swelling of the lips
• Scratchy throat
• Shortness of breath
• Hives
• Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
• Dizziness
• Nasal congestion and sneezing

If you have allergies to grass, birch, or ragweed pollen, you are more likely to suffer from OAS according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Only 9% of people who suffer from this syndrome have severe reactions that require medical treatment. If you do have a reaction that extends beyond the mouth area, you should seek medical attention.

Foods Associated With OAS


• Apples, pears, plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots, cherries
• Bananas, mangoes, kiwis, strawberries, raspberries, oranges
• Figs, avocados, and melons


• Nightshade vegetables: potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant
• Squash: pumpkins, butternut, zucchini
• Corn, peas, lettuce, artichokes, cucumbers
• Celery, carrots, cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, chervil

Other foods

• Walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds
• Wheat, soy
• Chickpeas, lentils, sunflower seeds, honey

Diagnosis and Treatment

Medical News Today suggests clinical methods are the most common in diagnosing OAS. A comprehensive patient history can reveal a link between identifying the specific foods that trigger tingling and swelling.

Laboratory tests can involve skin testing, prick test, or a scratch test. Dr. Chacko will mark out a grid on the forearm and introduce extracts from fruits, pollens, and vegetables. After 15 minutes, the area is checked to see if there is any reaction. In severe cases, blood tests can be used to diagnose allergies.


OAS is a common condition that many people do not know they have. People with pollen allergies often do not tolerate certain foods. They have not made the connection between eating those foods and their allergies. Those with known allergies to pollen are more susceptible to OAS.

If symptoms like tingling and swelling occur in your mouth when you are eating certain foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, you may have OAS. You can try cooking those foods, but you may have to avoid them altogether. If more severe symptoms occur, you should seek medical help.

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