Oral Allergy Syndrome

 

Since it is National Allergy Awareness Week, I thought I would bring to a light a less commonly talked about or even known about allergy, one that I have suffered with my entire life only in recent years understanding what the heck was actually wrong with me.

oral allergy syndrome

As a little girl, I often felt like my teeth would itch when I ate peaches, sometimes carrots and always apples (especially Red and Golden Delicious).

And the apples would not only make my teeth itch but my lips and mouth would feel weird leading down into my throat with a heavy feeling in my chest.

I couldn’t even cut up an apple for my son because somehow I would touch my face without washing my hands first and my eyes would swell up requiring Benedryl. Who thinks to wash their hands after slicing an apple?

The interesting part was that if the apples were cooked in a pie, if the peaches were canned in light syrup, I had no issue eating them.

It made no sense and when I tried to explain these little facts to my family, doctors and friends, people just thought I was insane and left it at that.

A few years ago I learned about Oral Allergy Syndrome and my life suddenly made sense.

Oral allergy syndrome or OAS is a type of food allergy classified by a cluster of allergic reactions in the mouth in response to eating certain (usually fresh) fruits, nuts and vegetables that typically develops in adult hay fever sufferers.

Welcome to my reality! I am allergic to tree pollen, specifically Birch and Alder so finally, my raw fruit and vegetable allergies made sense.

OAS is perhaps the most common food-related allergy in adults. OAS is not a separate food allergy, but rather represents cross-reactivity between distant remnants of tree or weed pollen still found in certain fruits and vegetables.

Because the allergenic proteins associated with OAS are usually destroyed by cooking, most reactions are caused by eating raw foods. The main exceptions to this are celery and nuts, which may cause reactions even after being cooked.

The most common reaction to uncooked fruits and vegetables (and some nuts) is an itching or burning sensation in the lips, mouth, ear canal, and/or pharynx.

Sometimes other reactions can be triggered in the eyes, nose, and skin. Swelling of the lips, tongue, and a sensation of tightness in the throat may be observed.

It can seldom result in anaphylaxis.

Allergies to a specific pollen are usually associated with OAS reactions to other certain foods:

Alder Pollen: almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley, strawberry, raspberry

Birch Pollen: almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazel nuts, kiwifruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, wheat – potential: walnuts

Grass Pollen: fig, melons, tomatoes, oranges

Mugwort Pollen: carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower

Ragweed Pollen: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, sunflower seeds/oil, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini, Echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, honey, hibiscus or chamomile tea

Possible cross-reactions to any of the above: berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries etc.), citrus (oranges, lemons etc.), grapes, mango, figs, peanut, pineapple, pomegranates, watermelon

 

As I have gotten older, I have developed more sensitivities on the oral allergy spectrum.

Or, it is quite possible that since I am no longer a picky eater, I am learning what I can and cannot eat.

Most birch pollen fruits such as peaches, pears, plums, grapes, sometimes cherries…As for vegetables, celery can bother me, carrots only on occasion, raw peapods in a vegetable tray and even edamame if it isn’t super super cooked.

Nuts are interesting. I have learned to avoid raw walnuts and almonds. In fact, I can’t even eat raw peanuts.

Thank goodness I can consume peanut butter. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t.

Candied or roasted walnuts are pretty much safe and symptom free for me but over time I am figuring out to avoid almonds at all costs.

I can eat cookies and things that have almond paste involved but actual pieces of nuts or anything with almonds as the first or second ingredient gives me that heavy feeling in my throat which I really don’t enjoy and to be honest, sometimes scares me.

You see me eat apples quite often and must be wondering what gives.

granny smith apples

Here’s the situation – when it comes to Granny Smith apples or even Pink Lady, as long as I eat them on a regular basis, I can tolerate them without issue. It’s like a desensitizing of some sort.

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On rare occasion, they will bother me but for the most part, I am good especially if I warm the apples first which we know I love.

Lately I am noticing more fruits being added to the I really shouldn’t consume this list. Pineapple, watermelon and maybe even strawberries; I really don’t wish to talk about it.

A few years ago I discovered that I could eat apples and other raw fruits like a normal person (meaning no itching in mouth or heaviness in throat) while I was taking Zyrtec for hay fever.

It makes sense actually since Zyrtec treats your symptoms associated with seasonal allergies which is the same pollen the body reacts to in the  raw fruits and vegetables.

I don’t advise taking allergy medication just to be able to eat things even though I have been known to do it. It doesn’t remove the problem, it just treats the symptoms. Your body is still reacting, you just don’t notice.

As a fruit and vegetable lover and especially a vegetarian, this is not the allergy to have.

Even though OAS seldom causes anaphylaxis, you just never know which time the triggering food  will affect you worse than just irritating your mouth, especially the nuts.

It isn’t easy to see everyone else giving up dairy milk in favor of almond milk, using almond meal in their baking recipes and adding walnuts and almonds to their snacks for the healthy fats because I can’t.

However, this just gives another example of how different we all are and how we must customize and tailor our lifestyles according to our own bodies.

And really, I am just grateful to be able to eat peanut butter.

Click here for more information about Oral Allergy Syndrome.

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Anyone else have this allergy?!?!?

What are you allergic to?

Do you eat things that sometimes you know you shouldn’t?

MAY 1!

I used to have a love/hate relationship with May.

hay fever

My seasonal allergies used to cloud just about everything positive about the pretty blooming trees, warm weather, sunshine, fun events, holidays and parties.

No amount of allergy medication would take the symptoms away (and I was taking medicine on top of medicine regardless of the warning labels).

I used to dread my son’s baseball games or taking him to play on his swing set because I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t stop sneezing. It was torture for me.

When he was little, he would walk around pointing to the trees and say, “TEES make mommy sneeze.”

Keyword here: USED TO

I no longer have a nose for pollen. I no longer suffer from the sneezing, itchy watery eyes, itching throat and heavy breathing/chest pain.

So what happened you wonder? How could it be that my body no longer reacts to pollen as it did since I was a little girl?

Good question.

When I randomly decided to become a vegetarian in the winter of 2012, I experienced several positive changes in my life almost immediately.

The switch from animal protein to more of a plant-based diet helped improve my running speed, muscle recovery, menstrual cycle and several other aspects of my life.

I never expected that not eating animal protein (in the form of meat and poultry that is) would eliminate my hay fever.

eczema

The trees can bloom and drop the green pollen all over and my nose doesn’t seem to care much anymore. I can sit through little league, run in the morning and not itch, water and sneeze. I can even breathe.

I do still take Zyrtec. I bet I could stop. But I am too afraid of those blooming trees.

However, I have never in all of my allergy years been so symptom free and able to enjoy the outdoors in the month of May as I have these past two spring seasons. I no longer get bouts of eczema on my eye lids in the winter nor do I get those allergy like bumps on my upper arms.

I am still raising my son to eat meat and poultry, although I would say he eats less of it. I also switched to buying only the meat and poultry that is antibiotic free with no hormones added as well as organic when possible. I have noticed a difference in him as well. He no longer seems to have seasonal allergies and does not need to take any allergy medication.

I don’t really like to preach too often to people about why they should consider switching to a plant-based diet unless I am asked for my opinion.

If anyone has questions for me though or would like me to get into further detail about the positive affects I have experienced, I will certainly do another post on this topic.

Upcoming fun for me in the month of May:

May 5th- Long Island Half Marathon

Just a few days away! Look at me running an outdoor race in the height of the blooming trees! The forecast is calling for sunshine and temperatures in the low 60’s. I am ready!

May 12th- Mother’s Day

I love Mother’s Day. It is so much fun for the boy and me. We have a special ritual each morning of Mother’s Day where we get up really early and head to our favorite breakfast spot.

premier diner

We love the breakfast at this diner so much that we have decided to ONLY go for breakfast here on Mother’s Day. It makes it that much more special and we get to talk about it all year and get all excited as the big day approaches.

We have been discussing it now for weeks, are counting down the days and already trying to decide what we will order.

The breakfast menu at this diner is simply ridiculous. I am truly so excited and seriously so unsure of what to order that I have considered ordering two different things.

May 16th Fitness Meet and Tweet

Fitness Magazine is holding an exclusive event for bloggers to attend in Manhattan. I am quite excited.

meet and tweet

Are any of my blogger friends going to be in attendance? Please let me know as I would love to meet you in person!

And last, but not least….Memorial Day weekend

pool

Unofficial start to summer…beaches open…pool a few steps from my front door opens. Need I say more?

I need to know:

What are you looking forward to this month?

Do you suffer with seasonal allergies? What medicine do you take? Does it work?

Would you ever consider switching to a plant-based diet? 

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