Itchy Mouth From Fresh Fruits and Vegetables? You May Have Oral Allergy Syndrome

Updated on September 24, 2018
stayingalivemoma profile image

Valerie is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing and enjoys cooking, medical topics, flash fiction, fashion, culture, and politics.

Display of fruits and vegetables that may cause a cross-reaction.
Display of fruits and vegetables that may cause a cross-reaction. | Source

An Apple a Day May Send You to the Doctor

If you're like me and have experienced itching and swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat after eating a fresh piece of fruit or a salad, you may be suffering from Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). It is also sometimes referred to as Pollen Allergy Syndrome.

All my childhood and teenage years were filled with days of enjoying fruit and vegetables. I loved them all: cherries, apples, pears, peaches, fresh pineapple, and oh my, watermelon. I would add apples to salads, eat cucumbers soaked in vinegar, and I adored fresh broccoli and cauliflower dipped in ranch dressing. Those days are long behind me, however, and it's all due to a sensitivity I have to certain pollens.

Symptoms of Oral Allergy Syndrome

Anytime something is introduced to the body that you are allergic or sensitive to; there is usually a general feeling of malaise until it has gone through your body. Symptoms of OAS can vary from person to person, but the most common are itching, burning, or swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth, or throat. Other symptoms that are not as common include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Worsening eczema or dermatitis
  • Asthmatic flare-up or exacerbation
  • Anaphylaxis (call 911 immediately)

People Who Are Most at Risk

Food allergies are very common in young children, but OAS usually develops over time and most often rears its ugly head in their 20s or 30s. Some individuals can experience this allergy while still in their teenage years. Here are people who have the highest risk of developing OAS:

  • People who suffer from seasonal allergies (hay fever), sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes.
  • People with known allergies to air pollens such as ragweed, mugwort, birch trees, and certain grasses.
  • People with a Latex allergy.

If you're allergic to the pollen in the air, then you may have a cross-reaction with fruits and vegetables.
If you're allergic to the pollen in the air, then you may have a cross-reaction with fruits and vegetables. | Source

Interesting Facts About OAS

  • One-third of hay fever sufferers have OAS.
  • About 2% of OAS sufferers may experience anaphylaxis.
  • Most people with OAS also suffer from asthma, other food allergies, and eczema.
  • "Organic" fruit STILL has the same proteins in it. Don't waste your money if you have OAS.

What Is a Cross-Reaction?

The easiest way to explain cross-reaction is to imagine that there are lots and lots of pollen allergens flying through the air. Some people are allergic to these pollens. Those very same people who are allergic to these pollens have their immune systems working overtime and develop sensitivities to the proteins found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Basically, your body is already having an allergic reaction to whatever pollen is in the air. It makes your nose run, your eyes water and itch, and you start sneezing. When these pollen irritants are crossed with the proteins in certain fruits and vegetables, you can have an OAS reaction.

Common Cross-Reactions

Pollen Allergens
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Cross-Reaction
Birch Trees
Almonds, Apples, Apricots, Carrots, Celery, Cherries, Coriander, Fennel, Hazelnuts, Kiwi, Parsley, Peaches, Peas, Plums, Potatoes
Bananas, Cantaloupe, Cucumbers, Chamomile Tea, Echinacea Tea, Honeydew, Sunflower Seeds, Tomatoes, Watermelon, Zucchini
Carrots, Celery
Melons, Oranges, Peaches, Tomatoes
Latex Allergy
Bananas, Kiwi, Avocado, Chestnuts
If you have a known allergy to one of these common allergens, these are some of the cross-reactions to avoid. This is not an all-inclusive list.

Other Foods to Avoid If You Have OAS

  • Fruit Salads
  • Banana Pudding
  • Banana Splits
  • Fruit Smoothies
  • Fruit Parfaits (unless used with "processed fruit")
  • Fresh Fruit Juices (i.e. fresh squeezed orange juice or fresh lemonade)
  • Cereal, Yogurt, or Pancakes with fresh fruit

What You Can Do to Avoid OAS Reactions

To avoid reactions, you can boil, sauté, bake, or stir-fry the fruit or vegetable. This is because the proteins that cause the allergic reaction break down during the cooking process. People with OAS may not be able to eat fresh cherries, but they may be able to eat cherry pie filling. Likewise, processed foods, such as applesauce is usually tolerated by people with OAS unless you have an allergy to apples. Here are some alternatives for people living with OAS:

  1. Avoid fresh fruit and vegetables altogether. Believe me, it's not worth the risk, and it's no fun experiencing the itching and swelling. Play it safe.
  2. Fresh green salads may very well be off limits. Find other ways to supplement your daily vegetables with canned or frozen green beans, spinach, corn, etc.
  3. Replace fresh fruits with canned fruits in light syrup, baked fruit pies, or blended fruit yogurts.
  4. Don't be fooled by tough skin! Even watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew can still bother you. Peeling the skin off apples, peaches, etc. will not help because the proteins are in the entire fruit.
  5. See an allergist and a dermatologist. They can do a skin test to determine which pollens, fruits, and vegetables cause you to have a cross-reaction. You may be able to eat one type of fresh fruit but not another.
  6. Check into getting allergy shots. This has been helpful for some OAS sufferers. Also, discuss with your doctor whether or not you should carry an EpiPen if you have severe allergic reactions.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    Your Comments and Suggestions Are Appreciated!

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        7 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        A well written and explained hub not many people know what causes their allergies you have mentioned it directly

      • stayingalivemoma profile imageAUTHOR

        Valerie Washington 

        7 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

        Hi 2uesday - for a long time, I thought it was the chemicals and pesticides applied to fruits and vegetables. In the beginning, I would rinse them off before eating. Eventually, however, after a while, this didn't help. Thanks for stopping by!

      • 2uesday profile image


        7 years ago

        Sometimes reactions to eating fruit might be caused by a salicylate sensitivity. The Feingold gold diet lists which fruit fall into this category.

        It could also be caused by some of the sprays and chemicals applied to fruit when it is growing or before it is dispatched to be sold.

      • stayingalivemoma profile imageAUTHOR

        Valerie Washington 

        7 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

        Thanks, vespawolf...I suffered from this for so many years without an explanation. There are probably millions of people out there in the world with these symptoms and have no idea what is going on or how to prevent it. Thanks so much for commenting and sharing!

      • vespawoolf profile image

        Vespa Woolf 

        7 years ago from Peru, South America

        My mother suffers from ragweed allergies and she has reactions to certain fruits, as well. I have a friend who can't get near a mango for the same reason! This is a very well-written and interesting hub. I especially find the allergy chart helpful. The explanation as to why this happens was fascinating as well. Thanks so much! Voted up and shared.

      • Mhatter99 profile image

        Martin Kloess 

        7 years ago from San Francisco

        Thank you for sharing this useful information.

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 

        7 years ago from Texas

        Very interesting. We have a student experiencing this and we've been having to be very vigilant in the cafeteria with her. A friend of mine experienced this as well. All of a sudden, in her twenties, she became allergic to what seemed like everything. It took them a while to pinpoint the specific foods. I remember her being really frustrated. Thanks for the info.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)