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Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)

sneezeIf you suffer from allergic rhinitis (hay fever), your mouth or throat may become itchy after eating an apple or celery.

This reaction occurs because the proteins found in some fruits and vegetables are very similar to those found in pollen. These proteins can confuse the immune system and cause an allergic reaction or make existing symptoms worse.

Cross-reactivity happens when the immune system thinks one protein is closely related to another. In the case of allergic rhinitis and foods, the result is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS).

The most frequent reaction involves itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue and throat. Symptoms usually appear immediately after eating raw fruits or vegetables, although the reaction can occur more than an hour later.

Rarely, OAS can cause severe throat swelling or even a systemic reaction, called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-LAK-sis), in a person who is highly allergic.

OAS can occur at anytime of the year. Although there is no definitive test for the syndrome, affected individuals often have a positive allergy skin test or blood test for specific pollen, along with a history of symptoms after ingestion of the suspected foods.

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