Curiosity

If Raw Fruits And Vegetables Make Your Mouth Tingle, You Might Have This Condition

Who knew there was an actual explanation?!

Have you ever felt a strange tingling in your mouth after eating a bunch of raw fruits and vegetables? Well, you’re not imagining things — this could be a symptom of a very real condition.

It’s called oral allergy syndrome, and it can be triggered by pollen allergies.

Understanding The Culprit

If you have pollen allergies, you already know about the sneezing and the runny nose and the itchy eyes and every other fun symptom that comes with spring. But some allergy sufferers go a step beyond needing a Zyrtec in the morning — and that’s where this oral allergy syndrome comes in.

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Usually, the allergic reaction to food is relatively mild but can come on very suddenly. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the most common symptoms of oral allergy syndrome are “itchiness or swelling of the mouth, face, lip, tongue and throat.”

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And on top of that, people often react to foods that they have been eating their whole lives without a problem. Imagine eating a banana at 45 years old and suddenly getting an itchy mouth for your trouble!

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This happens because many fruits and vegetables contain proteins that are similar to the plant pollens a person might be allergic to. The immune system then mistakes the fruit or vegetable proteins for the allergy-causing plant pollens, causing an allergic reaction.

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“We call it cross-reactivity,” Dr. Carah Santos, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver, told NPR. “Your immune system sees something as looking very similar to something it already reacts to.”

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How To Manage Oral Allergy Syndrome

Typically, people with oral allergy syndrome should avoid raw foods that cause a reaction. But you can peel or cook the fruits and vegetables before eating them to avoid any unpleasant itching or tingling in your mouth.

peeled apple photo
Flickr | Clara T S H

If you’re really uncomfortable, you can take an over-the-counter antihistamine to relieve symptoms.

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RELATED: Do Chewing Sounds Stress You Out? You Could Have This Condition

And now you know why you’re suddenly allergic to carrots! It’s not you — it’s pollen.

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Serious Food Allergies

Oral allergy syndrome is not to be confused with food allergies, the symptoms of which are very serious and can be deadly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight foods or food groups account for 90 percent of serious allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts and tree nuts.

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The Mayo Clinic says peanut allergies are responsible for the majority of severe allergy attacks (though new guidelines on when to feed peanuts to kids may help change that).

peanut butter photo
Flickr | mrsdkrebs

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the majority of symptoms happen within the first few minutes to the first couple hours after eating, though in some rare cases the effects can surface six or more hours later.

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Symptom to look out for include:

  • Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Repetitive cough
  • Shock or circulatory collapse
  • Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
  • Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue coloring of skin
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock; reactions may simultaneously affect different parts of the body (for example, a stomachache accompanied by a rash)

Scientists May Be Able To “Turn Off” Allergies

If you suffer from allergies, you may be interested in the findings from Australian researchers, who claim they’ve found a way to “turn off severe allergies.”

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“When someone has an allergy or asthma flare-up, the symptoms they experience result from immune cells reacting to protein in the allergen,” University of Queensland researcher Ray Steptoe said in a university news release. “The challenge in asthma and allergies is that these immune cells, known as T-cells, develop a form of immune ‘memory’ and become very resistant to treatments.”

So, the scientists inserted a gene to regulate the allergen protein into stem cells. They then inserted those stem cells into lab mic that suffer from allergies.

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The result was that the modified cells essentially turned off the allergic response in the mice. The technique hasn’t yet been tested on humans — but it sure would be nice if scientists could figure out a way to turn off our allergies, too!