I used to think I was crazy for believing that I was allergic to cantaloupe, but I couldn’t otherwise explain why I wanted to take a back scratcher to the back of my throat and lips after eating it.
Turns out that I have oral allergy syndrome (OAS), which is the most common form of food allergy in adults and usually affects people who suffer from seasonal allergies. My allergy to ragweed pollen is linked to my discomfort after eating melon.
OAS occurs because proteins found in certain foods are similar to allergy-causing proteins present in pollens from trees and grasses, and the immune system detects them as such.
Symptoms range from mild reactions, such as itching and burning of the mouth, lips, tongue, and throat; watery, itchy eyes; runny nose and sneezing, to more severe reactions, including rash/hives; wheezing; and gastrointestinal side effects.
Trigger foods vary from person to person, and many people report that they’re most problematic during allergy season. While some folks feel best avoiding the insulting foods altogether, many can tolerate them cooked, peeled, canned, or frozen.
Below are a few common cross-reactions between allergens and foods, but click here for a full list from the Oral Allergy Syndrome Network.
Birch tree: Apple, kiwi, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, plum, carrot, peanut, soybean, wheat, almond, hazelnut
Ragweed: Cantaloupe, honeydew, cucumber, zucchini, watermelon
Grass pollen: Cantaloupe, honeydew, orange, tomato, watermelon, peanut