Google+ Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery: Oral Allergy Syndrome


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Oral Allergy Syndrome

As a mom, I try to provide the healthiest food possible for my children.  Conventional wisdom dictates that I should serve them a substantial amount of fruits and vegetables ... things like apples, bananas and carrots.... super healthy, right?  Unfortunately, some people (my kids included) suffer from a cross-reaction between their hay fever allergies and certain foods that fall into the same botanical family.

When they eat certain raw fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, carrots, cucumbers, watermelon and peppers (just to name a few), they get an allergic oral reaction that often feels like tingling in the mouth (or "vibrating," as one son calls it).  Occasionally symptoms will include itching or burning lips, itching inside the ears, or a tightness in the throat. Severe indigestion can also result.

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) is also known as Pollen-Food Allergy.  People who are allergic to grass pollen, for example, may also have a reaction when they eat melons, tomatoes or oranges.  Those allergic to birch pollen may react to almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazelnuts, kiwifruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnip, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, or wheat.  That's 26 different food items!  What's left to eat?

Symptoms can increase and decrease with the levels of pollen in the air, and antihistamines can sometimes help.  Having a reaction to one item on the list of possible allergy trigger foods does not necessarily mean that a person will react to every item on the list.  When trigger foods are cooked, symptoms often disappear.

In our case, one son is so allergic he can't really tolerate any raw fruits but berries, and no raw vegetables at all.  Luckily, he will agree to eat a pretty wide range of cooked vegetables, so we can at least pump him full of those.  Another son can't stand cooked vegetables of any kind, but he does have a few more fruits on his list of "can-eats."  The last child will occasionally humor me by eating two blueberries or half a banana, but suddenly becomes extremely "full" when only vegetables are left on his plate.

We've been experimenting with "hiding" pureed baby vegetables in some of our dishes, in hopes of getting a few more vitamins into the boys.  Sweet potatoes mix well into pancake batter, and we used to use baby carrots in pasta sauce, until we found out that all three boys scored extremely high on their carrot allergy tests (so we haven't wanted to give them even cooked carrots anymore).

Has anyone else run into this issue of not having many choices for healthy fruits and vegetables for their children to eat?  Or themselves??  Love to hear about your solutions to this unique problem.


  1. I am SO GLAD to have found your blog! After 5 years of trying to get my picky youngest to eat any fruits and vegetables, and one severe reaction to grapes, we finally found out a year or so ago that he has OAS, reacting to grass, birch, and ragweed pollens.

    Because of the severe reaction and the wide variety of triggers, I took him off raw fruits & veg entirely. And yes, I get the "crazy" look - "what do you mean your kid can't have raw fruits or vegetables?"

    Our allergist has him on children's Claritin daily "from frost to frost" but we are still struggling to find food that he trusts. Looking forward to reading more about someone else dealing with this problem and getting some good ideas. Thank you so much!

  2. Hi Heather! It is crazy, isn't it? I just cringe every time my son tells me he got "the tingly," his term for that weird vibrations in his mouth when he eats something he's allergic to. Sometimes it's because there's a hidden veggie in something he ate, or sometimes (ugh) it's because I forgot and gave him something he shouldn't have. It's hard to keep track! I still have this vague feeling that the kids aren't healthy because they're not eating enough fruits and veggies, but I'm slowly getting used to the whole process. What bugs me is that there are so many "healthy" products out there with apple juice, pear juice or grape juice as sweeteners. It's like a grenade hidden in a treat! Good luck to you, and I hope my site helps a bit :) ~ Lisa