Seasonal Allergies and Food Sensitivities: Are They Related?

Are Food Sensitivities Affecting My Seasonal Allergies?

Are food sensitivities affecting my seasonal allergies? Yes, and no. Research has shown that at least one-third of those who suffer from seasonal allergies also have oral allergy syndrome (OAS). 

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)?

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is also called pollen-food syndrome, a name that describes the condition. It’s caused by allergens that your body recognizes because of the pollen and other proteins in foods such as raw vegetables, fruits and some tree nuts.

Surprisingly to some people, they find that they might be able to eat the same vegetables and fruits that bothered them when eaten raw if they are cooked. This is because the proteins in these foods are changed during the heating process and the body’s immune system doesn’t recognize the food any longer. The same is often true if the food is frozen or canned as well.

What are the Effects of Seasonal Allergies and Food Sensitivities?

While not every person who has seasonal allergies will also have food sensitivities, the food eaten is linked to a particular allergy. For example, if a person has an allergy to ragweed and they eat certain melons, including cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew, sunflower seeds, banana, sunflower seeds, cucumbers and zucchini.

There is no particular order or sequence in regards to OAS. An individual might have a reaction while eating only one food that then grows to include others at a later date. The opposite could also be true as well with a person only allergic to one or two foods within a category.

What are the Symptoms of OAS?

The symptoms of OAS are usually centered on one area and don’t spread beyond the mouth. Some symptoms include swelling of the tongue, lips, throat and mouth, itchy mouth and scratchy throat. Some people might also experience itchy ears. Treatment is often not necessary as symptoms typically disappear once the fruit or vegetable is removed from the mouth.

Treating Seasonal Allergies

Symptoms of both OAS and of  mild seasonal allergies can often be addressed with an antihistamine. Though these offer quick relief, they only tend to last for a few hours. An antihistamine is a good choice for people who get itchy skin, water and itchy eyes or hives when they are exposed to pollen. A daily medication like Claritin often has fewer side effects, but it has to be taken each day during the season. For symptoms that are more bothersome, a nasal corticosteroid can be used.

Prevention is important as well. Allergy sufferers should try to stay indoors on those days when pollen counts are elevated. Avoid those foods that are known to cause issues and reduce or eliminate processed foods, sugar and salt. They can reduce the effectiveness of the immune system.

For the correct diagnosis, it’s important to visit a medical professional. In some cases, an allergist might be needed as well. While some people can be diagnosed through their history, others require allergy testing.

Ready to get tested? Schedule a complimentary food sensitivity consultation today.

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