Unlike much of the country, here in the Pacific Northwest the winter has been unusually warm and the trees are in full blossom …. we are officially “in” the seasonal allergy season! So, even though some of us are still digging out of the heavy winter storms, allergy season will be hitting all of us soon.
Whether we call it seasonal allergies, allergic rhinitis or hay fever, it is pretty much the same thing. With seasonal allergies, the symptoms start or worsen at a particular time of year, when the allergen comes from tree pollen, grasses or weeds and other things that bloom. Hay fever or allergic rhinitis also can occur from exposure to dust, animals and other indoor allergens.
The itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, congestion can definitely make us miserable! And, on top of all that, those seasonal allergies can also be connected to “anytime” food allergies in a condition called Food-Pollen Allergy Syndrome or Oral Allergy Syndrome. These types of food allergies are due to a cross-reaction with a component of a particular food being similar enough to a seasonal allergen (like pollen or ragweed) that the food causes an immediate allergic reaction. Oral Allergy Syndrome always follows the development of hay fever. A person may have had no problems eating a particular food and then, after the seasonal allergies start, they find that eating cherries suddenly makes their mouth and throat itch or they start sneezing. Or certain varieties of apples cause a problem and not others. These reactions are almost always to certain fruits and vegetables and vary from person to person.
If you think you have Oral Allergy Syndrome mention it to your doctor. As far as your eating plans, experiment! ….
● you may need to avoid that food completely
● you may find that you have symptoms only if you eat a lot of that food, so eating less may be the idea
● you may find that peeling the fruit will stop your symptoms
● you may find that cooking the food stops that problem
● you may find that fresh vs. frozen makes a difference.
Sometimes, once the seasonal allergy/oral allergy syndrome circuit is established, eating the food first can trigger even worse hay fever symptoms! Seasonal allergies and food allergies don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand but the possibility exists. One more piece in the puzzle called “us”…