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Oral allergy syndrome

Itchy mouth?

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Have you ever bit into a juicy, ripe piece of fruit and experienced a tingling or numbness in your mouth? If so, you may have oral allergy syndrome, a reaction associated with pollen allergy — that is becoming more common.

Many raw fruits and veggies have proteins that are very similar to those found in tree, grass, and weed pollens, so your body responds to them in the same way. Up to a third of people with seasonal allergies experience oral allergy syndrome, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Telltale signs include an itchy mouth and tongue, as well as swollen lips. In certain instances, ears can be itchy.

The most common food culprits are apples, carrots, peaches, plums, cherries, pears, tomato, melons, zucchini, cucumber, kiwi, and bananas. However, other foods can be problematic, such as lettuce, green pepper, and certain nuts. In some cases, peeling or cooking the foods before eating can help.

One or more of the foods could trigger oral allergy syndrome in susceptible individuals once they are sensitized.

Pollens and trigger foods

If you or your child is allergic to tree pollens, avoid peaches, apples, pears, kiwi, plums, coriander, celery, fennel, parsley, cherries, and carrots.

If allergic to grass pollens, avoid peaches, celery, tomatoes, melon, and oranges.

If allergic to ragweed pollens, avoid bananas, cucumbers, melon, and zucchini.

Incidence increasing

“Most of the literature I have reviewed indicates oral allergy syndrome is increasing but did not provide an explanation as to why,” says registered dietician Debra Indorato, owner of Approach Nutrition Food Allergy Management, LLC and Kids With Food Allergies.

Oral allergy syndrome is more commonly found in older children, teens, and adults. Unlike certain other allergies, it is uncommon to outgrow it. My own daughter developed the syndrome in her early 20s after suffering from tree pollen allergy since middle school.

“A parent would be concerned if the obvious swelling of the face, lips, and tongue would occur after eating the trigger foods,” explains Indorato. “A child might also demonstrate signs of trying to scratch their tongue or throat.”

If your child experiences these symptoms, take him to a pediatric allergist.

“Diagnosis would be made by reviewing the history and pattern of symptoms, foods eaten when the symptoms occurred, how often after eating the symptoms occurred, prick skin tests, and possibly an oral food challenge,” she says.

Helpful websites

• Kids With Food Allergies: www.kidswithfoodallergies.org

• American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: www.aaaai.org

• American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: www.acaai.org

Christine Palumbo, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Naperville, Ill., is on the faculty of Benedictine University. Follow her on Twitter @PalumboRD, Facebook at Christine Palumbo Nutrition, or Chris@ChristinePalumbo.com.

Edamame hummus

Prep time: Five minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

Makes: 14 servings (1-1/4 cups total)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups edamame, shelled and cooked according to package directions

1/4 cup soybean oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons garlic, chopped

3/4 teaspoon cumin, ground

1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS: Puree edamame, oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt in food processor for 30 seconds, scraping sides twice, until almost smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serving tip: Serve with pita triangles, crackers, baguette, or raw vegetables.

NUTRITION FACTS: (Serving size: 2 tablespoons) 60 calories, 2 g protein, 5 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 g saturated Fat, 0 g trans fat, 1 g fiber, 0 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium.

Courtesy of United Soybean Board

Updated 4:45 pm, July 9, 2018
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