Oral allergy syndrome can cause itching or tingling.

Q: What is causing my daughter’s throat to itch when she eats certain fruits and vegetables?

A: There are many children who experience itching and tingling inside their throat or mouth when they eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Chances are, these children also will experience seasonal allergies to trees, grass, weeds or ragweed. These are common symptoms of oral allergy syndrome, also known as pollen-food syndrome.

OAS is caused by similar allergens found in pollen and raw fruits, vegetables or some tree nuts. People affected by OAS can usually eat the same foods that irritate them if they are peeled, processed or cooked, because the allergens are removed or broken up during the heating process.

The syndrome is more common in older children and teens, but can occasionally be diagnosed in young children. OAS is rarely life threatening and typically causes mild irritation, such as an itchy mouth or scratchy throat. More serious symptoms include swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth and throat. If your child shows any of these symptoms, check with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Diagnosis of OAS begins with establishing a history of pollen allergies. Allergy testing to the fruits or vegetables is often not necessary and is typically negative.

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There is currently no treatment for OAS, but the good news is, unlike traditional food allergies, OAS symptoms rarely progress beyond the mouth and throat, resolve quickly and do not require treatment. To avoid irritation, avoid giving your child foods in raw forms that are causing symptoms.

Always consult your child’s pediatrician concerning your child’s health.

For more pediatric health news parents can use, visit our blog: 700childrens.nationwidechildrens.org.

David Stukus, M.D., is a pediatric allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

This story is from the Summer 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.