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Pollen Allergies Can Go Hand in Hand with Some Food Sensitivities

What is Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome?

If you’re allergic to certain tree and grass pollens, you might also have a reaction to certain fruits or vegetables. Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome, which can cause a scratchy throat or itchy mouth after eating certain things, occurs in fifty to seventy-five percent of people allergic to Birch tree pollen. It happens because the proteins found in fruits and vegetables can be very similar to the proteins in pollen, which can confuse the immune system and cause an allergic reaction to foods.

Which food might cause a reaction?

Patients who are allergic to Birch have a chance of also having a sensitivity to apples, kiwi, carrots, peaches, pears, cherries, plums, hazelnuts, and coriander. Approximately twenty percent of patients with an allergy to grass pollens may experience symptoms with celery, melons, oranges, peaches, and tomatoes. Ragweed pollen sufferers may have sensitivities to melons, bananas, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, and zucchini.

What are the symptoms?

Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome can cause itching of the mouth, a scratchy sensation of the throat, redness of the face, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and mouth. Approximately nine percent of patients can experience systemic symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, or hives, and almost two percent will experience anaphylactic shock. Reactions are often more severe if patients exercise after ingestion of the food.

How do you treat it?

Allergen immunotherapy is a great option for patients with pollen allergies and also those with Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome. Immunotherapy often reduces nasal and chest symptoms and can decrease the need for medication. And, in a significant percentage of patients, allergen immunotherapy can be curative!

Immunotherapy is offered in the office, where concentrated allergens will be injected once or twice weekly for 16-33 weeks. As the dose increases to a concentration where allergy relief is noticeable, Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome symptoms are usually reduced as well.

If you’re interested in allergy testing and/or Immunotherapy, please call the office for an appointment with Dr. Bagenstose: Dermatology & Allergy (614-299-7546).

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