Causes, Symptoms, Tests, and More

If you’ve ever experienced mild itchiness, tingling, or swelling around the lips or in your throat after eating certain foods, it could be a sign of oral allergy syndrome (OAS) — especially if you have a known allergy to pollen.

Also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome (PFAS), oral allergy syndrome is a type of food allergy triggered by eating certain types of raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts. It typically causes a mild allergic reaction around your mouth or in your throat after you come into contact with or eat these foods.

And if you have hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and are allergic to pollen, particularly tree, grass, and ragweed pollen, you’re more likely to experience this type of reaction.

What Causes Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Oral allergy syndrome is caused by allergens in foods that come from plants. The proteins in certain fruits, vegetables, or nuts are very similar to those found in some forms of pollen, which can trigger an allergic reaction if you eat the food trigger in its raw form.

If you have oral allergy syndrome, certain foods may confuse your immune system, leading it to respond to the food as it would to a type of pollen, such as birch tree pollen, says Gordon Sussman, MD, a professor at the University of Toronto and an allergist at Sussman Allergy in Toronto.

This can cause a contact allergic reaction in your mouth and throat area. Or, the response may worsen existing allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose.

What Are the Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome?

The symptoms of OAS include mild itching, tingling, or swelling of the lips, mouth, throat, or tongue.

Symptoms typically occur within a few minutes after consuming raw fruits, vegetables, or nuts, says Samia Kadri, family nurse practitioner at Banner Health in Phoenix, Arizona. And these symptoms usually resolve minutes later.

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