Welcome back! Last week, we posted a blog on surviving radiation that was shared over 550 times and read by more than 1,400 people. If you missed that blog and would like to catch up, click HERE.

This week, we are going to talk about Oral Allergy Syndrome. My guess is that there will be a lot of you who read this and say, “Oh wow…I think I may have this!”. The answers we present to you regarding your baffling symptoms may start to make some sense. Come, let’s share A Cup of Coffee and chat…

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is when you are allergic to fresh (raw) fruits and vegetables. It can impact children, but mostly impacts adults.

What are the symptoms?

The most frequent symptoms include a rapid onset of itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue, and throat. Sometimes this will include gums, eyes, or nose. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although in rare cases, the reaction can occur more than an hour later. In some people, the reaction is severe, and can lead to throat swelling, difficulty swallowing, and trouble breathing. In extreme cases, this leads to anaphylactic shock and requires immediate medical intervention, or the person can die.

What causes OAS?

According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, “Oral allergy syndrome is due to cross-reactivity between plant proteins from pollen and fruits or vegetables. When a child or adult with a pollen allergy eats a raw fruit or vegetable, the immune system sees the similarity and causes an allergic reaction.”

Can they ever eat fruits or vegetables?

Strangely enough, they can, but they must be cooked. The cooking process changes the protein enough that the immune system does not recognize the food as being the same as the pollen anymore.

Who is most likely to get this allergy?

OAS most commonly occurs in people with asthma or hay fever from tree pollen, although other pollen allergies may also trigger OAS.

PollenPotential Cross-reactive Foods
RagweedBananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) zucchini, cucumber, dandelions, chamomile tea
BirchApples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, nectarines, prunes, kiwi, carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnips, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts
GrassPeaches, celery, melons, tomatoes, oranges
MugwortCelery, apple, kiwi, peanut, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers
AlderCelery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley
LatexBananas, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, papaya
Photo credit: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

A local woman speaks out

Deedra Thompson, who resides in Oregon, lives with OAS. She said, “All my life I thought everyone’s mouth itched and burned after eating an apple, or raw potato. Celery is the same story. About 15 years ago, I sat down with 2 apples and peanut butter (no, I’m not allergic to peanuts/nuts), munching away, and realized I was wheezing. Ten minutes later, my throat felt really, really, ‘tiny’, and I was having a hard time even getting air into my throat. I called 911.”

The response to Deedra was very fast, thank goodness. She was administered an Epi-pen (for severe allergic reactions) and taken to her health care provider’s ER.

She went on to say, “I was released a couple of hours later with new knowledge and a whole list of ‘bad’ fruits and vegetables (raw). Cooked is fine as the protein that causes the reaction is normally destroyed by high heat. I was told they are seeing an increase in this allergy. I think folks may not even realize if their lips, tongue, or inside of the mouth itches or tingles, they are also likely allergic.”

What can I do to prevent having a reaction?

According to Healthline, the answer is pretty blunt. Avoid those foods that trigger you. You can also try the following:

  • Cook or heat your food. Preparing food with heat changes the protein composition of the food. Many times, it eliminates the allergic trigger.
  • Buy canned vegetables or fruits.
  • Peel vegetables or fruits. The OAS-causing protein is often found in the skin of the produce.

As always, if you think you have a condition highlighted in one of our blogs, seek out professional medical advice. Only a trained professional can accurately diagnose and treat your symptoms.

That’s all I have for you this week, dear reader. I’ll see you back here next Wednesday to share another cup of coffee. Until then, be good to yourself and each other.

Mind, Body, Spirit…Osteopathic Doctors treat the whole person, not just the ailment. Is your PCP a DO? Would you like to learn more about Osteopathic Physicians? Click HERE!


  1. Now I know why raw walnuts make my mouth tingle/burn. They don’t if baked in bread or cookies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *