By Dr. Anthony Ham Pong, M.B., B.S., Paediatric Allergist - Ottawa Ontario.
Published in the June 2000 AAIA newsletter.
Oral Allergy Syndrome is an allergy to certain raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, spices and nuts causing allergic reactions in the mouth and throat. These allergic reactions happen mostly in people with hayfever, especially spring hayfever due to birch pollen, and late summer hayfever due to ragweed pollen (Webmaster note: there is no ragweed pollen in British Columbia west of the Rockies).
An allergic reaction happens while eating the raw food, and causes itchy, tingly mouth, lips, throat and palate. There may be swelling of the lips, tongue and throat, and watery itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Handling the raw fruit or vegetable e.g., peeling it or touching the juice to the lips, may cause rash, itching or swelling where the juice touches the skin, or sneezing, runny nose and water eyes. Sometimes, more severe symptoms can happen such as vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and, on rare occasions, life threatening reactions with swelling of the throat, wheezing, trouble breathing and anaphylaxis.
Fruit, Vegetable & Nut Allergies Associated with Spring Allergies
(due to tree pollen)
Webmaster note: For more foods, see the "Botanical List of Food Families" article
APPLE family (apple, pear)
PLUM family (plum, peach, prune, nectarine, apricot, cherry)
PARSLEY family (carrot, celery, dill, anise, cumin, coriander, caraway)
POTATO family (potato, tomato, green pepper)
Hazelnut, walnut, almond
Peas, beans, peanut
Ragweed allergy (which causes hayfever in August and September) can be associated with allergies to raw bananas, and the members of the gourd family (melon, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, zucchini and cucumber).
Grass allergy can be associated with allergies to orange, melon, watermelon, tomato, kiwi, peanut.
These allergic reactions usually occur only when the food is raw. People who are allergic to the raw food can eat it cooked, canned, microwaved, processed or baked. For example, someone allergic to raw apples can eat apple sauce, apple jelly, apple juice, apple pie and dried apples. However, nuts may cause allergic reactions whether raw or cooked. This problem is usually life long. Allergy tests to these foods may sometimes be negative unless a fresh fruit is used for the test (instead of a commercial allergy extract). The allergic reaction to these foods can occur anytime of the year when eating the foods but can be worse during the pollen season and especially if hayfever is very troublesome that year.
The allergic reaction is not due to pesticides, chemicals or wax on the fruit. Howeve,r because the more allergic part of the fruit may be in the skin, some people allergic to fruits, e.g., peaches, can eat the flesh without reaction if the skin is peeled away. Similarly for apples, some brands of apples cause more allergic reactions than others. Freshly picked apple, e.g., straight from the tree or an unripe apple, may cause fewer allergic reactions than one which is very ripe or one which has been stored for weeks after picking.
Severe allergic reactions to foods causing Oral Allergy Syndrome are most likely to occur with celery, kiwi, peaches, apricots, apples and nuts, especially hazelnuts.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
Allergy/Asthma Information Association,
Box 100, Toronto, Ontario M9W 5K9
Phone (416) 679-9521 or 1-800-611-7011 Fax: (416) 679-9524
This is my second pregnancy. With my first I avoided peanuts because of the link to allergies but now this seems to be in question and I've not heard of any suggestions to avoid fruit? Help!
i got diagnosed with an apple allergy when i was 10, my eyes swelled up andwereitchy constantly, at 14 i couldnt even be in the same room as someone cutting up an apple and the reaction would happen now im almost 19 and if i have anything with the tiniest bit of appple my throat gets full of ulcers and my tongue and eyes swell up like balloons. its not fun .
I am allergic to apples and have been since I was a child I have Never grown out of it. I get Lumps and a burning sensation Usually on my face. I have had to go to the Hospital for shots even from just being around them.
My DD is allergic to apples....this of course also includes apple cider vinegar. We have to read all labels!!!! Apples and vinegar are in just about everything....right down to the berry filling used for cakes.
She breaks out in hives. Luckily a touch of benadryl will alleviate her itching. I cannot emphasize enough to read the labels. If your child also has the apple vinegar allergy, remember they often add vinegar to meats as a tenderizer. She does fine with distilled vinegar. I make her pearsauce as an applesauce substitute. She is 9 now and diagnosed around age 2.
I haven't yet tried plums peaches pears or hazelnuts (the other major reactors for me) but it seems like such a miraculous thing I'm very hopeful.
Not even the smell sets me off now. It's amazing! And thanks to the drawn out cold weather this year I'm hoping I'll miss my hayfever season too >
I am 42 and have also been allergic to raw apples as long as I can remember. Also raw peaches, cherries, and unripe pears. Eating these fruits raw have caused me to get swollen lips, itchy mouth and wheezing and constricted throat(anaphylaxis). Some people freak out about the wheezing, but in my case, I have never felt that my life was threatened, even when the wheezing was pretty intense, and have never gone to the hospital to treat a reaction. I have had milder reactions from eating raw carrots (swollen lips) and some nuts like raw almonds and hazelnuts - but these reactions seem even milder in the past 10 or so years.
Inspired by an article in the local paper last week about whether a course of micro-administration of peanuts might help kids outgrow nut allergies, I picked up a Royal Gala apple last week to just take a bite, to see if i had any reaction. To my shock I detected nothing, so took another. Slowly, I ate the whole apple. I thought I sensed a very slight stomach ache, but no other reaction. I have since had an apple a day. I also ate a Macintosh apple, with similar success. Recently, I am not noticing any stomache ache.
I have read that apple allergies may be more intense in the spring and summer months because of pollen levels. As it is currently March, maybe that's why I am not reacting. Another theory is that I have been eating a lot of pears in the past year. Pears have given me reactions in the past, but never as severe as apples. Perhaps, I have been reducing my sensitivity to the culprit proteins through pear consumption. I intend to keep up with regular apple consumption to see if this is something that I can overcome even when the pollen returns to the air. Not being able to eat the ubiquitous raw apple is a pain. Would be great to overcome this.
That is not always true.. I am one of these cases... Anything that contains any form of apple juice, apple sauce, jelly, jam... apples of any sort.. cooked or not... anaphylaxis for me. Due to a lot of restaurants listening to the myth that all of us can eat them cooked, it's a life of epi pen and a prayer, as they do not declare apple products in their sauces, recipes, etc. The doctor who made that statement is pretty reckless on his statement... There are actually MANY people around the world who can't even have their raw allergy food COOKED. I would really like to see that reckless statement edited... for me and many others, you can cook it and feed it to us, we still will die...