Oral Allergy Syndrome: Itchy, Burning Feeling in your Throat - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India

Oral Allergy Syndrome: Itchy, Burning Feeling in your Throat

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 30 Mar 2016 - 10:05


Some people's mouth feels as if it's on fire upon eating fruits like apples, peaches, cherries, celery, carrots or plums. Their palate itches so badly that they feel like kicking themselves. This condition is referred to as Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) and this keeps them away from the vitamins and nutrients packed fruits far from their reach. According to allergists, about 70% people suffering from hay fever or allergic rhinitis have OAS in their system, to an extent. OAS, also called as Fruit-pollen syndrome is not as dangerous as allergies caused due to eggs, milk, peanuts or wheat products. Antony Ham Pong, an allergy consultant claims that systemic reactions get triggered by these 'priority' allergies, resulting in increased chances of fatal response.  

Causes of fruit allergies

The culprit could be anything from a pesky allergy to grass, tree and weed pollens, that makes a watermelon wedge or a carrot stick, react adversely. The body's natural defence against allergens is IgE, an antibody that cannot differentiate between pollen molecules of some trees (poplar, birch, etc.) and weeds as their protein structure is quite similar to that of some raw fruits.

So, when the antibody binds to the fruit protein, people allergic to similar pollens might develop an allergy that lasts for a few minutes. In some instances, this allergic reaction can also spread from the mouth and pass in to the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in cramps and nausea.

For example, if you're allergic to birch pollen, you tend to develop oral allergy upon eating apples, plums, peaches, hazelnuts, kiwis, cherries, apricots and pears. According to a study conducted by Jyotshna Mandal and colleagues on Immediate Hypersensitivity to Common Food Allergens, published in the World Allergy Organization Journal, “Several food allergies to fruits and nuts have become increasingly common and represent a growing clinical problem. Studies have shown that food allergy in adolescents and adults, develops because of an allergic sensitization or cross reaction to inhalant pollen allergens”.

Significant Symptoms to Fruit Allergy

  • Irritation, itching and burning sensation in the mouth, lips, ear canal, pharynx and throat
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Blisters and rashes near the lips
  • Swelling of the lips, mouth and tongue
  • Tight chested-ness and breathing difficulties
  • Respiratory inflammation and blocking of airways
  • Associated wheezing; can cause anaphylaxis in extreme cases
  • Low BP followed by respiratory distress
  • If the allergen is inside the system and not destroyed, it can cause digestive issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramps
  • Skin rashes like red itchy welts that appear in clusters with specific borders as urticarial and hives

Note: People with OAS often react to specific raw fruits, but they can tolerate them if well-cooked. For instance, their mouth may itch when they eat a raw apple, but eating apple sauce does them no harm. The reason being, proteins causing pollen-related reactions get broken down with heat.

3 Common Fruit Groups that cause Allergies

  • Rosaceae family  – apple, cherry, pear, plum and peach
  • Cucurbitaceae family - cucumber, watermelon, melon, pumpkin and zucchini
  • Kiwi Fruit – causes relatively more severe allergies than other fruits. People allergic to kiwi are also allergic to banana, latex and avocado because of the protein cross-reactivity.

Do you know the fact?

Fact: Prolifins cause fruit allergies which are found in many fruits apart from grass, trees and weed pollens. People with hay fever may also experience allergies after eating melon, watermelon, tomato and citrus fruits.

A study conducted by new University of Southampton points out that kiwi is a prominent food allergen that causes severe reactions, especially in young children having allergies to various foods.

6 Ways to Avoid a Tingling, Itchy Mouth Due to Allergy

Itchy eyes and itchy nose are common symptoms of those experiencing oral allergy syndromes.

Tips to avoid oral allergy syndrome:

1.      Stay away from your worst foods

You must your food culprits and stay away from them. For instance, those allergic to birch pollen should stay away from apples, pears, celery and other raw fruit that contain pits. Similarly, those allergic to grass pollen must stay away from oranges, melons and tomatoes.

2.      Know your common symptoms

You must be aware of your oral symptoms such as tingling in the throat, mouth and swelling in the lips. This occurs just in a matter of seconds or minutes after eating that particular food, to the extent of making even swallowing uncomfortable.

3.      Know that some hay fever victims are unaffected

Those sensitive to hay fever may not get affected when the pollen allergy season is off. That means that can safely eat the common allergy-causing saw fruits at other parts of the year. However, for others, the symptoms can get triggered whether it's off pollen season or pollen season.

4.      Never ignore symptoms

Symptoms are usually short lived and go away in a matter of minutes. In case you have an itchy mouth after eating food, just stop eating that food, take an antihistamine to get relieved from itchiness.

5.      Try various other kinds of food

Those allergic to raw apples may not be necessarily allergic to apple juice or apple sauce. This is because the protein causing allergy gets broken down by further processing or cooking. You could try peeling the fruit as this helps take the allergen off from right beyond the skin of the fruit. Eating canned food or frozen form also works.

6.      Meet your allergist

OAS occurs in kids as young as 3 years and even for the very first time in case of adults. Once you're experiencing oral symptoms, make sure you meet your allergist and sort it out. There are several tests you can do to recognize underlying food allergy.



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