Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS), or Oral Allergy Syndrome, affects many who suffer from seasonal allergies or Hay Fever. Those affected may react to raw fruits, vegetables, and even some tree nuts. Proteins found in these certain food items cause reactions due to their similarity to the allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollens, also known as cross-reactivity. Symptoms are usually only triggered by raw foods. When these foods are cooked, the proteins that cause reactions are destroyed by heat and cannot be recognized by the body. However, not everyone who has a pollen allergy will have PFAS.

Foods commonly associated with PFAS

Birch Pollen apple, almond, carrot, celery, cherry, hazelnut, kiwi, peach, pear, plum

Grass Pollencelery, melons, oranges, peaches, tomato

Ragweed Pollen – banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds, zucchini

 Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome symptoms include an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, and swelling of the lips, mouth, and tongue. Some people may even experience itchy ears and hives. Symptoms are usually confined to the mouth and do not tend to spread. Anaphylaxis is very rare. Often, the symptoms resolve once the food item has been swallowed or removed from the mouth, so treatment is not usually necessary.  A best practice to prevent reactions is to avoid the raw form of the foods you have identified. If cooked versions still cause unpleasant symptoms, you should avoid the food altogether. PFAS is different from a food allergy; however, if you are experiencing any significant discomfort or other systemic reactions, it is best to contact your doctor.

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