Have you ever felt your mouth and throat itch and tingle after taking a bite into a delicious apple? Or maybe a banana? But then when you have apple pie, you have no problems? Don’t worry, you’re not crazy, and thankfully not truly allergic!
These symptoms are due to a phenomenon called Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) or Pollen-Food Syndrome (PFS). Basically, if you are allergic to certain outdoor pollens, the proteins in those pollens look similar to certain fruits, vegetables, and even nuts. When you eat these foods, your body gets confused and annoyed, and asks you “why are you eating this tree/grass/weed?” The reason you can tolerate baked or cooked versions of these foods (with the exception of peanuts and tree nuts) is that these proteins are broken down with high heat and disappear. You may have less issues with foods when you are out of the corresponding pollen season, and more when you are in that season. This phenomenon does not progress to anaphylaxis and no epi-pen is required. Avoidance is the best “treatment,” but if you’re really craving a particular food, you can take a Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec ~ 15 – 20 minutes prior to eating it. Sometimes peeling the fruit can help as well.