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Hay Fever and Cross Reactions

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) produces symptoms when an affected person eats certain fruits, vegetables and nuts. Some individuals may only show allergy to only one particular food, and others may show an allergic response to many foods.

Individuals with an allergy to tree pollen may develop OAS to a variety of foods. While the tree pollen allergy has been worked out, the grass pollen is not well understood. Furthermore, some individuals have severe reactions to certain fruits and vegetables that do not fall into any particular allergy category. In recent years, it has also become apparent that when tropical foods initiate OAS, allergy to latex may be the underlying cause.

Because the allergenic proteins associated with OAS are usually destroyed by cooking, most reactions are caused by eating raw foods. The main exceptions to this are celery and nuts, which may cause reactions even after being cooked.

Cross Reactions

Allergies to a certain pollen are associated with OAS reactions to certain foods. For instance, an allergy to ragweed is associated with OAS reactions to banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, zucchini, and cucumber. This does not mean that all sufferers of an allergy to ragweed will experience adverse effects from all or even any of these foods. Reactions may begin with one type of food and with reactions to others developing later. However, reaction to one or more foods in any given category does not necessarily mean a person is allergic to all foods in that group.

  • Alder pollen:  almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley, strawberry, raspberry
  • Birch pollen: almonds, apples, apricots, avocadoes, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazel nuts, kiwi fruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnip, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, wheat and potentially walnuts
  • Grass pollen: fig, melons, tomatoes, oranges
  • Mugwort pollen: carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower
  • Ragweed pollen: banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, sunflower seeds/oil, honeydew melon, watermelon, courgette, echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, honey (if pollinated from wild flowers) hibiscus, or chamomile tea
  • Possible cross reactions with any of the above: berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries etc.), citrus (oranges, lemons etc.), grapes, mango, figs, peanut, pineapple, pomegranate, watermelon.

Source: Oral allergy syndrome

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