Foods can make seasonal allergy symptoms worse

Foods can make seasonal allergy symptoms worse

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - People dealing with allergies from many different types of pollen may experience worsened symptoms because of the food they eat.

Even if they're not allergic to the foods themselves.

The culprit in allergies to pollens and foods is a protein, and some foods with similar proteins to the ones patients are allergic to can push allergies into overdrive, in a condition called Pollen Food Syndrome or Oral Allergy Syndrome, according to allergist Dr. Thomas Harper III.

"If you are allergic to that pollen protein not everybody but a lot fo people when they eat the related fruit or vegetable they will have itchy mouth and throat....and in some cases can cause throat swelling or anaphylaxis," Harper says.

For example, people who are allergic to birch pollen, a common springtime allergen, will more than likely experience a histamine response from foods like apples, almonds, carrots, hazelnuts, kiwis and pears, Harper says.

Foods connected with grass pollens, which are a problem in late spring and summer months, include celery, oranges, melons, peaches and tomatoes.

"If someone comes in and says, 'I'm here because I can't eat a watermelon or cantaloupe,' I can guarantee them they are going to be allergic to ragweed and they almost always are," Harper says.

But Harper says there is a solution to the problem: heating the fruits and vegetables break down the protein and can help patients avoid a bad reaction.

"People say, 'When I eat raw apples, my mouth will have issues but when I eat an apple pie, I can eat that without a problem.' So cooking and food will help and taking the skin off will also help," he says.

Copyright 2014 WCSC. All rights reserved.