Pollen, mold and insect stings are common allergy culprits during the summer months. But fresh produce, such as celery, apples and melons, can also cause allergy symptoms. This is known as Food Pollen Syndrome or Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) – cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables and some tree nuts.

This syndrome is due to a “food allergy” caused by uncooked fruits, raw vegetables, spices and nuts. It is not an actual food allergy, but instead a reaction to certain foods that can develop in people with allergies to pollen. The immune system mistakes the food proteins for the pollen proteins and causes symptoms.

The reaction to these foods can occur anytime of the year when eating the foods, but can be worse during the pollen season when you’re having allergic rhinitis/hay fever symptoms. These symptoms begin quickly after the food is put in the mouth and usually lasts only a few minutes after the food is swallowed. OAS is common for people with spring allergy symptoms from birch pollen, or late summer hay fever from ragweed pollen.

What are the symptoms of OAS?

An allergic reaction happens while eating the raw food. These reactions occur in the mouth and throat. Symptoms may also happen when peeling fruits or vegetables, or if the juice touches the lips.

Most common symptoms of a reaction are:

  • Itchy, tingly mouth, lips, or throat
  • Very mild swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Watery, itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing