For people who suffer from seasonal allergies, this seemingly healthy indulgence may possibly lead to other health issues that include an itchy feeling in the mouth, throat and on the lips.
“Some fruits and vegetables have identical proteins to those in pollen which can trigger allergic reactions,” said Frances “Ed” Neuzil, Jr. PhD, MSN, ARNP, FAANP and owner of the Allergy, Sinus and Asthma Family Health Center in Central Florida. “Eating these plant-based foods can cause what’s called oral allergy syndrome and can cause an immune response similar to when a person inhales airborne allergy triggers.”
For example, melons such as cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon, have a protein which mirrors what’s in ragweed pollen. Other fruits and vegetables which share similar triggers are banana, zucchini, cucumber and kiwi.
Apples are another common source of oral allergy symptoms for people who are allergic to birch pollen.
Neuzil notes that not everyone who suffers from seasonal allergies experience the oral allergy symptoms and that the itchiness may not occur each time the food is consumed. He says it may only happen during a person’s respective allergy season when those airborne proteins are more prominent.
The key is recognizing when you have symptoms and to stop eating the offending food. Sometimes, removing the skin or eating canned or frozen forms of the fruit may be better tolerated.
Neuzil recommends consulting with a medical practitioner to help determine the source of the allergic reaction to learn ways to avoid further symptoms.