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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Clark Nutritionist

Does Hay Fever cause Food Sensitives?

Ah Spring.. the sun is shining but it’s not too hot yet, the sweet scent of blossoms are on the breeze, birds are swooping passers-by (if you live in Australia) to protect their young. The end of the year is fast approaching and as we start making plans for school holidays that are not far off.. Allergy sufferers make plans for allergy season to stave off reactions to; grass, thunderstorm asthma commonly associated with pollen!

But is it just hay fever that the season brings? Perhaps you suspect you have food intolerances but you can’t put your finger on what exactly you are reacting to oddly occurring at a similar time of the year?

You may be suffering from Oral Allergy Syndrome.

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Oral Allery Syndrome (OAS) otherwise known as Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome is a relatively mild allergic reaction in most sufferers. It is triggered by eating herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, raw fruit and vegetables, that are related to tree, grass, and plant pollens associated with hay fever and seasonal allergy but are limited to the oral aggravation and sometimes the ear.

Sufferers will experience an itching or a burning sensation affecting the mouth and sometimes the throat. In rare cases OAS may be life threatening; causing severe throat swelling which may make breathing or swallowing difficult, leading to anaphylaxis.

Immune Response

OAS is an immune response triggered by an immunoglobulin E (IgE) allergic reaction. Those who are prone to OAS are reacting to the proteins found certain pollens (e.g. birch, grass, ragweed), associated with allergic rhinitis, or more commonly known as hay fever. During exposure to the pollens, the immune system produces IgE antibodies against the proteins causing as activation of local mast cells. Interestingly, unlike other food allergies which can affect the whole body, OAS reactions mainly affect the mouth and throat.

The structure of proteins found in many vegetables and fruits are very similar to the proteins of the aggravating pollens which are called “panallergens”. This creates confusion in the immune system causing an allergic reaction known as cross-reactivity.

Common OAS Symptoms

o Oral rapid-onset itching and/or burning of the lips, mouth, throat, or ears

o Tingling, small blisters & swelling of the lips, tongue, palate, and throat or uvula

o Nausea, indigestion, vomiting, diarrhoea

More severe reactions

o tight feeling in the throat with difficulty breathing and anaphylaxis.

These symptoms will occur within minutes (if not instantly) of eating the food. Particularly sensitive individuals can experience symptoms on handling or even inhaling the offending vegetable, fruit, nut, herb or seed.

Individuals may have different reactions based on different allergens or even different varieties of fruits or vegetables.

List of Pollen types and foods associated with OAS:

How can I Minimise my Reactions?

o avoiding ingesting or touching raw offending foods and related foods

o cooking offending and related foods prior to eating may help but not for all foods

o rinsing the mouth with water after consuming allergenic foods

o taking an antihistamine if recommended after consuming allergenic foods, or if symptoms appear

o Diet and Lifestyle can help reduce the severity of your response to allergies, see your nutritionist

If this article resonates with you, having suffered with hay fever and possible food sensitivities, book your Nutrition Consultation and request a Food Sensitivity Test today and we can end the mystery!

Clinical Testing

Serum IgE Food Sensitivities Test



1. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. (n.d.). Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) or pollen fruit syndrome (PFS). Retrieved August 10, 2018, (GI)

2. Beyer, S., Sack, U., & Treudler, R. (2012). ‘Birch pollen associated soy allergy: Possibilities in diagnostic and clinical relevance’. Journal of Laboratory Medicine/Laboratoriums Medizin, 36(3), 143-151. doi:10.1515/labmed-2011-0017 (R)

3. Ciprandi, G., Comite, P., Ferrero, F., Bignardi, D., Minale, P., Voltolini, S., Mussap, M. (2016). ‘Birch allergy and oral allergy syndrome: The practical relevance of serum immunoglobulin E to Bet v 1’. Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, 37(1), 43-49. doi:10.2500/aap.2016.37.3914 (R)

4. Hellmann, D. B., & Imboden, J. B. (2018). ‘Rheumatologic, Immunologic, & Allergic Disorders.’ In M. A. Papadakis & S. J. McPhee (Eds.), 2018 Current medical diagnosis & treatment (57th ed., pp. 884-887). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education/Medical. (GI)

5. Kashyap, R. R., & Kashyap, R. S. (2015). ‘Oral Allergy Syndrome: An Update for Stomatologists’. Journal of Allergy, doi:1155/2015/543928 (R)

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