The term oral allergy is often used to describe symptoms which affect the lips and oral cavity. In simple terms, the syndrome is described as an allergic reaction to certain fruits, nuts and vegetables. The majority of people who develop this allergic disorder almost always have hay fever or a history of allergies. The syndrome is rare in children and most common in teenagers and adolescents. In most cases the disorder is most commonly seen in individuals who already have allergies to birch pollen. In some cases individuals who have allergies to dust, mites, pollen of grass, ragweed and mugwort may also develop this syndrome. The reactions to these allergens can occur at any time but like most allergies are common during the pollen season.
Symptoms of this oral disorder include:
- Moderate to severe itching localized in the mouth area
- A sensation of burning around the lips and mouth
- An irritable or sore throat sensation
- Watery eyes
- Itching around the eyes
- Runny or congested nose
- Frequent sneezing
The symptoms of this allergic disorder of the mouth usually occur immediately after eating or even touching the food but in rare cases the symptoms may be delayed for 45-60 minutes. Some individuals who touch the food may also develop a skin rash or hives at that site.
While in most cases the oral allergy syndrome is mild in nature, it can become serious and present with swelling of the throat, lips and mouth. In such a case, immediate medical attention should be sought. Such cases can quickly turn serious and present with signs of an anaphylactic shock. the features of anaphylactic shock include:
- Severe wheezing
- Generalized hives
- Flushed skin
- Severe asthmatic attack
- Low blood pressure with weak pulse
- Difficulty breathing
- Shock like state
Foods that have been associated with the allergy syndrome include:
- White potato
It is believed that the oral allergy syndrome occurs because of a certain protein in the foods. This reaction is only seen when eating fresh or uncooked foods. When the food is cooked, this protein is destroyed and can no longer initiate an immune reaction. However, nuts are an exception because boiling or cooking still does not destroy the protein in these type of foods. What is known is that as the fruits get older the allergic potential decreases.
Oral allergy treatment is only indicated if the symptoms are moderate to severe. For mild cases, one may use an over the counter anti histamine. All individuals who have a history of allergy should carry an auto injector. The oral allergy treatment for anaphylaxis requires immediate administration of epinephrine injection into the thigh. Other treatments for oral allergy include cooking all foods, immunotherapy, avoiding triggering foods or moving to a pollen free area.