Do you have seasonal allergies or hay fever? Guess what – up to a third of all allergy suffers have something called “oral allergy syndrome,”* and it can really wreak havoc on your tongue and mouth.

When you have hay fever, your immune system treats pollen as a foreign invader – so your body reacts and tries to flush that foreign body out of you. Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, etc. are all ways that this reaction is manifested.

But if you have oral allergy syndrome, your immune systems treats certain proteins, which are similar to pollens, found in some fruits and vegetables and attacks them.

So, for example, if you are allergic to ragweed and you have oral allergy syndrome, eating a cantaloupe will cause your mouth to itch or even develop hives! Or, if you are allergic to birch pollens and then eat an apple, same thing…itchy mouth, maybe hives, and you are miserable!

Foods to Avoid

Oral sensitivity develops over time with repeated exposure to pollens, and you can be tested by an allergist. In the meantime, here are a few foods to watch out for if you suffer from hay fever or seasonal allergies:

  • Birch pollen allergy – people with birch pollen allergies may react to kiwis, apples, pears, peaches, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, hazelnuts, and almonds.
  • Grass Allergy: People with grass allergies may react to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons, and oranges.
  • Ragweed Allergy: People with ragweed allergies may react to honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelons and tomatoes. Also known are reactions to zucchini, sunflower seeds, dandelions, chamomile tea and Echinacea.

3 Ways to Minimize Oral Allergy Syndrome

Here are three tips though, if you DO have oral allergy syndrome but you absolutely, positively can’t live without your favorite foods no matter how high the pollen count:

  1. Cook ‘em,
  2. Peel ‘em,
  3. Can ‘em!

Cooking food often breaks down the trigger proteins so your immune system won’t target them. And peeling fruits, such as apples, helps because most trigger proteins are in the peel. Canning breaks down those proteins too.

And don’t forget – keep your mouth clean! By using a tongue cleaner as part of your daily routine, you can help rid your tongue of residual foods that might be triggering those reactions. Now, go out there and enjoy the weather!!!

*American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology