Have you ever felt a strange tingling in your mouth after eating a bunch of raw fruits and vegetables? Well, you’re not imagining things—this could be a symptom of a very real condition. It’s called oral allergy syndrome, and it can be triggered by pollen allergies.
If you have pollen allergies, you already know about the sneezing and the runny nose and the itchy eyes and every other fun symptom that comes with spring. But some allergy sufferers go a step beyond needing a Zyrtec in the morning—and that’s where this oral allergy syndrome comes in.
Usually, the allergic reaction to the food is relatively mild, but can come on very suddenly. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the most common symptoms of oral allergy syndrome are “itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue and throat.” And on top of that, people often react to foods that they have been eating their whole lives without a problem. Imagine eating a banana at 45 years old and suddenly getting an itchy mouth for your trouble!
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This happens because many fruits and vegetables contain proteins that are similar to the plant pollens a person might be allergic to. The immune system then mistakes the fruit or vegetable proteins for the allergy-causing plant pollens, causing an allergic reaction.