Ragweed is one of the most bothersome environmental allergies — and that’s because such a large amount of pollen circulates through the air at one given time. Some people with a ragweed allergy might experience additional symptoms, but only when eating raw produce. Why is that? Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS).
What is Oral Allergy Syndrome?
Oral Allergy Syndrome is something that can happen to people with a broad variety of environmental allergies including mold, grass, trees, and, of course, ragweed.
In the middle of ragweed season, when your body is primed and exposed to ragweed, it can mistake certain produce as ragweed. This is because compounds in certain raw fruits and vegetables are very similar to the compounds on the surface of ragweed pollen. So if you’re allergic to ragweed, your body can interpret the produce as harmful when you eat it — just like it does when it’s exposed to ragweed.
Once the body finds the produce to be harmful, it responds with symptoms like an itchy mouth and throat, and sometimes even gastrointestinal upset, congestion and/or runny nose.
Just because you react doesn’t mean that you’re allergic to the specific fruit or vegetable, and during other times of the year, you may not react at all to those foods. It’s almost like an added “side effect” of ragweed allergy.
What foods are connected to ragweed allergies?
There are several foods that may cause symptoms for those with an allergy to ragweed:
Most people react to these foods in their raw form. There are a few ways you can alter them so you can eat them during peak ragweed season (we get it, not everyone can go without potatoes for a few months out of the year!).
What can I do to find relief?
The first option is to modify the food — peeling and washing may be enough for some. For others, it may be best to cook the produce and avoid it in its raw form all together.
Staying on top of your allergies throughout the season can help, too. Taking antihistamines consistently can temporarily lower the chance of reaction to ragweed itself, and often, the OAS symptoms that may come along with the allergy.
Treating the cause of your underlying allergy with immunotherapy can also positively impact OAS. By using sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, your body learns over time to not react to ragweed (and other problematic environmental allergens). This can prevent OAS reactions, too, helping you feel your best during those late summer months — often permanently.
Ready to treat the cause? Find a provider near you that is trained in diagnosing and treating with allergy drops following The La Crosse Method™ Protocol.