Ragweed allergies make millions of Americans miserable each fall by triggering itchy eyes and stuffy noses. They can also cause oral allergy syndrome – mild allergies to certain raw foods. Here are some foods ragweed allergy sufferers should cut out of their diet this autumn.
Ragweed allergies affect 10 to 20 percent of Americans every year. Symptoms typically appear from August to November and are worst in mid-September when ragweed pollination is at its peak.
If you suffer from ragweed allergies, you may know that antihistamines can stop your eyes from itching. But did you know certain foods can trigger allergic reactions as well?
Oral Allergy Syndrome
Oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also called pollen-food syndrome (PFS), is when your body confuses the proteins in certain raw foods with pollen and unleashes an immune response (cross-reactivity). This can cause:
- Itchy lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and occasionally, ears
- Swelling of the face, mouth and throat area
- More serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis (rarely)
How to Deal With OAS
For some patients, OAS only flares up when consuming raw foods. Try preparing the food differently by:
- Cooking it – denatures the proteins so your body doesn’t attack
- Peeling it – removes allergy-inducing proteins found in the skin
- Eating canned food – reduces symptoms for some people
- Avoiding it – eliminates any chance of a reaction
Here are some of the most common food sensitivities for people with ragweed allergies.
Though melons are best enjoyed in the summer, people with ragweed allergies should think twice before biting into a slice of watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew. All three tasty treats can trigger OAS. To reduce your chance of a reaction, grill or roast melons on their own or as part of a larger recipe.
You may have to get your potassium from somewhere else this fall. If you can’t help but take a bite of banana, try baking it into banana bread for a yummy breakfast or making banana chips for a snack on the go.
Zucchini tends to be used in hot dishes, so there’s less chance you’ll experience OAS unless you eat it raw. There are countless preparation options, from baked zucchini and veggie skewers to zucchini bread and chips.
Cucumbers are known for being cool, but that’s not what you want when you have OAS. Believe it or not, they do taste just as good, if not better, when you fry, bake or sauté them. If you eat them chilled, be sure to use a veggie peeler first.
If you play baseball or softball and love littering the dugout with sunflower seed shells, you may be in luck – most prepackaged sunflower seeds are already roasted. However, if you buy raw seeds, be sure to shell and roast them in the oven first.
Do You Have OAS?
OAS is rarely harmful, but it can be hard to trace and difficult to diagnose. If you suspect you have OAS, come into Allergy & ENT Associates for a skin test. Our board-certified allergists can help confirm OAS, rule out more severe food allergies and give you direction in your diet. Call (713) MY-SINUS today to book your first appointment with a location near you.