Does eating apples (or melon or celery) make your mouth itch?
If you’ve ever eaten fruit or vegetables and experienced an itchy mouth or scratchy throat, you might have oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen food syndrome. David Amrol, MD, said this is a common type of food allergy. He explained why it happens and what you can do.
“If you are sensitive to a pollen, like birch, you might have a reaction if you eat apples, peaches and pears. This is because it contains a similar protein,” Dr. Amrol said. “When you eat that fruit, the protein causes histamines to be released in your mouth and throat, so you get itching and irritation. Your throat can feel tight or even swell a little bit. However, your stomach breaks down that protein, so you don’t get the same reaction, like anaphylaxis, that you would get from a peanut allergy.”
What can trigger oral allergy syndrome?
Birch pollen: Cross reacts with apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries
Ragweed pollen: Cross reacts with bananas and melons
Grass pollen: Cross reacts with celery and citrus
“It’s not the pollen or pesticides on the fruit, it’s the protein in the fruit,” Dr. Amrol explained.
What can you do to avoid symptoms from oral allergy syndrome?
Dr. Amrol said avoiding the raw fruits and vegetables is typically the way to go. But you can also cook them because cooking denatures the protein. Sometimes, getting allergy shots for the underlying pollen can also make it better.
If you experience significant discomfort or have trouble swallowing, let your doctor know.